All eyes are on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and US reactions are swift

"I'm hoping that the United States government doesn't make the mistake of going into Ukraine trying to nation-build," Congresswoman Frederica Wilson told theGrio.

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 24: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks about Russia’s “unprovoked and unjustified” military invasion of neighboring Ukraine in the East Room of the White House on February 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. Biden announced a new round of sanctions against Russia after President Vladimir Putin launched an attack on Ukraine from the land, sea and air on Thursday. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden from the East Room of the White House on Thursday during a televised press conference reiterated “our forces will not be engaged in war with Russia” in response to what he called a “premeditated attack” on Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

However, Biden contends that the United States is working in support of NATO allies, like Canada and France, to apply pressure on the Kremlin.  

Russia, a nuclear power led by President Putin, threatened severe consequences if Western countries chose to intervene. When asked during Thursday’s press conference if he thought Putin would go beyond Ukraine in his military attack, President Biden replied emphatically, “Yes!”

President Biden said the United States is not responding to this moment alone. The U.S. is stepping up sanctions against Russian oligarchs and banks that hold Russian money. Other sanctions include cutting off exports to the country. The sanctions go beyond a singular person and extend to the targeted person and their families. 

Putin launched strikes Wednesday against Ukraine, which has reportedly killed at least 40 people. After the invasion began, Putin said the continued strike is not about occupying Ukraine but an act of self-defense. In his remarks, the Russian president said he would demilitarize and “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Reactions to the Russian attacks were swift. With news of the initial strike, President Biden issued a statement saying the attack “will bring catastrophic loss of life.”

President Biden during his East Room remarks said, “America stands up to bullies and we stand up to freedom.”

U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson of Florida expressed to theGrio her concern that the United States will resort to engaging in nation-building. She argued that America’s history with Afghanistan and Iraq proved that doing so is a hard task and that in both countries nation-building did not result well. 

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL 24th District), speaks at a forum to examine evidence-based violence prevention and school safety measures. The forum was held on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (Photo by Cheriss May) (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

I’m hoping that the United States government doesn’t make the mistake of going into Ukraine trying to nation-build because we’ve had our experiences with that. And so I don’t want a war over Ukraine and Russia that’s between Ukraine, Russia and Europeans,” Congresswoman Wilson told theGrio

“What we’re doing is providing them with weapons and with intelligence and whatever goods they need. But they are no match at all for Russia. If the United States interferes militarily in Ukraine, it will be a war between Russia and the United States, and that will be the Third World War. We don’t need that.”

Former President Barack Obama released a statement Thursday afternoon, saying “The consequences of Russia’s reckless actions extend beyond Ukraine’s borders. This illegal invasion in the heart of Europe also threatens the foundation of the international order and security.”

Former US President Barack Obama (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

“For some time now, we have seen the forces of division and authoritarianism make headway around the world, mounting an assault on the ideals of democracy, rule of law, equality, individual liberty, freedom of expression and worship, and self-determination. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows where these dangerous trends can lead — and why they cannot be left unchallenged.”

President Obama added, “Michelle and I will be praying for the courageous people of Ukraine, for Russian citizens who have bravely declared their opposition to these attacks, and for all those who will bear the cost of senseless war.”

After months of the global community working diplomatic channels to avoid the current conflict, Russia moved with missile strikes against Ukraine. On the ground in Ukraine Thursday morning, CNN aired footage of Ukrainians scrambling to ATM machines looking for money to get out of the country or for a cash grab in response to a moment of uncertainty in the midst of the deadly attack. There are also reports that subways are being used as bomb shelters.

Democratic Caucus Chair, U.S. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, released a statement on the conflict in Ukraine. “An attack on any democracy is an attack on every democracy. Vladimir Putin chose to launch a premeditated war, and is responsible for the pain, suffering and death that will result,” said Jeffries.

Hakeem Jeffries
House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) talks to reporters following the weekly Democratic Caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on June 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“Led by President Biden, the United States and the international community will stand strongly behind Ukraine and ensure that Russia is held accountable for this egregious act of aggression. My prayers are with the Ukrainian people. May God protect and watch over them during this difficult hour.”

U.S. Congresswoman Val Demings in a statement said in her state of Florida, “Russian oligarchs have made regions of South Florida into their personal playground,” and called on the U.S. to do more to target them and President Putin.

“Their travel rights should be rescinded and their businesses blacklisted. Any foreign national using our state to launder illegal money should have their mansions seized, their yachts drydocked, and their luxury cars impounded,” said Demings.

“I call on our allies in Europe, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean to do the same: any yacht in your ports or apartment in your cities belonging to a sanctioned individual should be immediately seized by law enforcement.”

Rep. Val Demings (D-FL)
Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) (Photo by Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images)

The Florida candidate for U.S. Senate added, “We should also utilize the information we gained from the passage of my legislation to investigate Putin’s finances, and implement staggering personal sanctions against his own assets.”

As this growing war becomes a major conversation on the world stage, the U.S. economy and oil supplies have been impacted. The Dow plunged by 700 points Thursday and prices at the pump are rising much higher than in the past few months. 

President Biden is vowing to do everything he can to guard against oil supply disruptions and working toward releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to drive down prices at the pump. 

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