Utah leaders responded late Wednesday and early Thursday to the Russian military attacks in Ukraine, which started with the sounds of explosions just before dawn in the Eastern European country, The Associated Press reported.
“[Vladimir] Putin’s Ukraine invasion is the first time in 80 years that a great power has moved to conquer a sovereign nation,” Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said. “It is without justification, without provocation and without honor.”
His statement, posted to Twitter just after 8 p.m. Utah time, also criticized past U.S. policies.
“Putin’s impunity predictably follows our tepid response to his previous horrors in Georgia and Crimea, our naive efforts at a one-sided ‘reset,’ and the shortsightedness of ‘America First.’ The ‘80s called, and we didn’t answer,” the statement continued.
“The peril of again looking away from Putin’s tyranny falls not just on the people of the nations he has violated, it falls on America as well,” he added. “History shows that a tyrant’s appetite for conquest is never satiated.”
Romney, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, urged America and its allies to “answer the call to protect freedom by subjecting Putin and Russia to the harshest economic penalties, by expelling them from global institutions, and by committing ourselves to the expansion and modernization of our national defense.”
Sen. Mike Lee said on Twitter Thursday morning that the “horror of war has again shown its face in Europe.”
“Putin’s cruel attack on the people of Ukraine is a gross breach of sovereignty. I condemn this violence and evil, and pray for the people of Ukraine,” Lee said.
Ukrainians foreign minister called the Russian advance “a full-scale invasion,” The New York Times reported, with attacks reported in many regions of the country. Explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv and in the second-largest city of Kharkiv.
From the European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium, Rep. John Curtis addressed the attack.
“The mood is somber and almost surreal, like this can’t be happening,” Curtis explained of the feeling in parliament during a video posted online early Thursday morning. “But it is happening, and those in Europe know that this has heavy consequences for them, and really for the rest of the world.”
The congressman said he has been in Brussels this week to talk about energy and climate, but discussions in the European Parliament had shifted to the invasion.
He’d had a chance to talk with a European Union commissioner and, according to Curtis, asked what message he could send back from the EU to the United States.
“She said the most important thing we could do is to send a signal of our support for them and our brotherhood with the European Union,” the congressman said, adding that he conveyed back to the commissioner that his constituents back in the U.S. do support the EU.
“They’re very well aware that as they impose sanctions today, and this afternoon and this evening, that retaliation will be coming back from President Putin. And at no time is more important to stand with our brothers and sisters here in the European Union,” Curtis said.
In a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune, Rep. Blake Moore, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he condemned the invasion was praying for Ukraine. He also said the White House should have imposed tougher sanctions on Russian before the attacks on Ukraine’s capital city.
“I vehemently condemn Putin’s horrific invasion of Ukraine, and I continue to stand ready to work with the Biden Administration to enact crippling sanctions and immediately reverse failed energy policies in order to rebuild America’s energy independence and assist our partners and allies in Europe,” Moore said.
“I join the world in praying for Ukraine during this abhorrent, unjustified attack, and I will work with Congress, the White House, and our European allies to support Ukrainians in their fight for freedom,” he said.
Rep. Burgess Owens said late Wednesday night that he was praying for all Ukrainians.
“Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine undermines its territorial sovereignty and violates international law. America stands with Ukraine, our NATO allies, and freedom,” Owens wrote in a statement posted online. ”I’m praying for every man, woman, and child across Ukraine tonight.”
Rep. Chris Stewart said in a statement Thursday morning, “The mistake the West has made for more than a decade is to think an autocratic bully can be a reasonable geopolitical partner. Putin doesn’t want to be part of the current international order. He wants to blow it up.”
Stewart, a former U.S. Air Force Pilot member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, called for the “strongest possible sanctions and export controls to cripple Russia’s ability to make war” and that military equipment should be sent to Ukraine to support an insurgency.
The Utah House held a moment of silence on Thursday morning before the start of the day’s session of hearings.
“How can you not have compassion on the Ukrainian citizens? I never thought I’d ever see tanks go across the border again,” Utah Senate President Stuart Adams told reporters Thursday. “If there’s problems between those two countries, to use military force I condemn strongly and feel for the citizens that are in Ukraine.”
Gov. Spencer Cox tweeted an image Wednesday night of the colors of Ukraine’s flag that read, “I Stand With UKRAINE.”
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine puts millions of lives at risk and represents an all-out assault on democracy,” the governor posted from his official account on Thursday.
On Twitter Thursday, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez asked the Navajo people to pray for Ukrainians and he hoped for a peaceful end to the conflict.
“Just as our Navajo Code Talkers defended our country and protected democracy, our proud Diné men and women serving in the military stand ready to serve once again, but we pray that the situation does not escalate further and that our world leaders reach a peaceful resolution so that our military men and women are not put in harm’s way,” Nez wrote.
Breaking news editor Rachel Crosby and reporter Kim Bojórquez contributed to this story.