ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) --Minnesota's members of Congress condemned Russia's invasion into Ukraine, all of them reacting to the escalating violence on Thursday as President Biden hit the country with new stringent sanctions.
Biden addressed the nation on Thursday afternoon, announcing new sanctions on Russian banks to freeze "every asset they have" in America. The United States and its Western allies will block more than half of Russia's high-tech imports, Biden said, with more controls on exports to the country.
"These are not going to be a little pain. This is going to be a dramatic and decisive repudiation of what Russia is doing and will cause grave harm to Russia's economy," said DFL Sen. Tina Smith at an event Thursday morning before Biden's remarks. "Russia has chosen to launch an unprovoked, premediated attack. It's a war of choice."
WCCO asked her and Rep Angie Craig about the crisis unfolding abroad while they were visiting Dakota County Technical College to tout a piece of federal legislation.
"We need to make this very painful for Vladimir Putin and Russia," Craig said. "We need to, in the strongest terms, possible isolate Russia from the entire international community."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who visited Ukraine last month, tweeted her support for Ukraine and called for unity around the globe, in addition to "swift sanctions and consequences worldwide."
In an interview with NPR Thursday morning, Klobuchar said the sanctions shouldn't be underestimated, noting that the U.S. and its allies account for more than half of the world's GDP.
"The effect when all of these countries where Russia has holdings, where Russia does business — it is a major, major gut punch," she said.
Across the political divide, Republicans also blasted Putin's invasion. Rep. Tom Emmer, who's in House GOP leadership as the head of its campaign arm, called the attack "unwarranted" that's "a result of weak leadership on the world stage."
He also backs quick action to hold Russia accountable., saying "our response to these aggressions must be done in a swift and unwavering manner that holds Russia - and any other nation seeking to violate international law - to account, while restoring American energy and economic dominance here at home."
Right now, Congress is back to work in their districts. Craig said she called on House leadership to bring lawmakers back to Washington sooner to pass a strong package against Russia and make sure "the military assistance Ukraine needs, Ukraine gets."
Here are comments from other members of the delegation:
Rep. Ilhan Omar
"I condemn in the strongest possible terms Vladimir Putin's reckless, illegal invasion of Ukraine. My thoughts are with the Ukrainian civilians who have already suffered immensely and are again suffering the brunt of this terrible conflict. We must continue to support diplomacy even as it becomes more difficult – though it is becoming harder to imagine, this could still escalate to something much more devastating."
She added that she supports sanctions targeting Putin, his oligarchs, and the Russian military but continues to oppose "broad-based sanctions that would amount to collective punishment of a Russian population that did not choose this."
Rep. Betty McCollum
"The Biden administration, with the bipartisan support of Congress and our NATO and European allies, will respond in a united and decisive manner. The strongest possible sanctions must be imposed on Russian financial institutions, oligarchs, and political leaders by the U.S. and the international community. The world must make Vladimir Putin understand in explicit, unequivocal terms that his actions will have severe consequences."
Rep. Michelle Fischbach
"Russia's violation of Ukraine's sovereignty is unjust and unacceptable. We are dealing with a culmination of this administration's failed economic policy, energy policy, and foreign policy. It is past time for the United States to reassert its leadership. America and the rest of the free world must stand together in face of this aggression," she said. "I pray for and stand in solidarity with our friends and democratic allies, the people of Ukraine."
Rep. Dean Phillips
"You're either for Democracy or for authoritarianism. Here and abroad. Shame on anyone who puts politics above principle right now. Let's be America. America leads. We do not resign. We do not ignore. Democracies, no matter nascent nor mature, must protect one another as a matter of principle. Let's get together on this."
Rep. Pete Stauber
On Twitter, Stauber wrote: "Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is unacceptable. The United States must stand strong with the Ukrainian people and our allies against this aggression, and Putin's actions must have severe consequences. I am praying for the Ukrainian people during their fight for freedom."
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