Colorado leaders call for additional sanctions as Russia invades Ukraine

· Feb. 24, 2022, 11:14 am
Ukraine TensionsUkraine TensionsVadim Ghirda/AP
Ukrainian servicemen sit atop armored personnel carriers driving on a road in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a military operation in Ukraine and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to "consequences you have never seen."

Russia’s wide-scale invasion of Ukraine drew sharp criticism from Colorado’s congressional delegation and governor on Thursday. 

In a statement, Sen. Michael Bennet called on President Joe Biden to punish Russian president Vladimir Putin through additional economic sanctions. He also called for the administration to explore options to bolster Ukrainian resistance. 

“Putin’s corrupt and self-serving distortion of history and disregard for international law has upended the post WWII order,” said Bennet, a Democrat. “His violent path will result in grave consequences not only for the Ukrainian people but for the Russian people as well.” 

Democratic Rep. Jason Crow outlined specific steps he hoped the U.S. would take in response to the conflict, including financial sanctions, long-term support for Ukrainian armed resistance and aid for refugees. 

“Putin’s goal is clear: to redraw borders to reestablish the Soviet block and usurp democracy in Europe and throughout the world,” Crow said. “The U.S. and international response must be swift and crippling.” 

Russia’s military action also drew messages of support for Ukrainian citizens. 

Rep. Diana DeGette called the attack completely unjustified. The Denver Democrat said “there’s a special place in hell for people like Vladimir Putin.”

“Putin alone is responsible for the catastrophic loss of life and unprecedented destruction that this war will bring,” DeGette said. “The U.S. and its allies stand steadfast with the people of Ukraine in this fight to protect their sovereignty.” 

Sen. John Hickenlooper, also a Democrat, said the United States stands ready to support the people of Ukraine. 

“You’re not alone,” Hickenlooper tweeted. 

In a statement, Gov. Jared Polis urged Congress to immediately suspend the federal gas tax and "double down on a rapid clean energy transition." Those steps, among others, would help prevent further energy and fuel price increases for Coloradans, Polis said. He also offered words of support to the people of Ukraine.

"I assure Ukrainians that they have the support and prayers of our state," he said.

Republican delegation members, including Rep. Doug Lamborn, condemned Russia’s invasion while criticizing the Biden Administration’s handling of the crisis in recent weeks. 

“In just 13 short months, Biden made a disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, failed to fully sanction the Nord Stream II Pipeline, and begged the Russians and others to increase oil production after shutting down the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Lamborn said in a statement. “Although the blood of innocent Ukrainians is on Putin's hands, it is Joe Biden's failures that set the stage.”

The invasion has many lawmakers worried about Russian aggression toward other European democracies.

Republican Rep. Ken Buck told CPR’s Colorado Matters in an interview this week that he hopes western allies will step up their own military commitments.

“What Russia is doing is actually uniting NATO,” Buck said. “I think that one consequence will be that the NATO countries in Europe spend more money on defense. I think they take what Russia is doing very seriously and recognize that it is more of a direct threat that they felt before.”

Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat, told Colorado Matters in an interview this week he's worried about what could happen after an invasion of Ukraine.

“I do have concerns of the spillover effect,” Neguse said. “To the extent that Russia continues on this current course of conduct in terms of democracy in Europe and larger security concerns for the west.” 

Neguse supports President Biden's economic sanctions and said the U.S. and allies must have a "muscular" response to Russia’s actions.

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