The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio officials react to invasion in Ukraine

Leaders across state condemn Russia actions

- Haley Bemiller

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman excoriated Russia for attacking Ukraine, saying the invasion would create a humanitari­an crisis and “destabiliz­e Eastern Europe in ways not seen since World War II.”

Portman, who co-chairs the Senate Ukraine Caucus, was among leaders across Ohio who condemned Russia’s actions and vowed to support the U.S. ally in eastern Europe. The escalating conflict boiled over early Thursday after Russia launched a military operation, leading to explosions in major cities.

“This is a foreign policy crisis not just for Ukraine, but for the United States and all freedom-loving countries around the globe,” Portman, R-ohio, said.

The attack also struck a nerve for members of Ohio’s Ukrainian community, one of the largest in the country. Father Lubomir Zhybak, who leads Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, said Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “cowardly criminal” who must face consequenc­es.

He also said the conflict has implicatio­ns for freedom and democracy beyond his home country.

“We need to think beyond the gas pump and cheap gas,” Zhybak said. “That’s not what life is all about.”

Portman and other officials called on President Joe Biden to issue harsh sanctions on Russia and provide more military support to NATO allies in eastern Europe. A poll released this week found only 26% of Americans believe the U.S. should have a major role in the conflict, and 52% supported minor involvemen­t.

In a call hours before the attack, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-ohio, pledged that U.S. sanctions would cost Putin and Russia’s economy billions of dollars. He also accused former President Donald Trump of derailing a bipartisan Ukraine policy when he “did everything but sit in the lap of Putin.”

“Some of these Republican candidates and the former president need to read a little more history of post-world War II,” Brown said.

Here’s what other Ohio officials and candidates have said.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur

The Toledo Democrat, who co-chairs the Congressio­nal Ukraine Caucus, has family roots in Ukraine and represents the large Ukrainian population in Parma.

“By invading Ukraine, Putin has affirmed Russia’s status as a criminally

rogue state, and launched an offensive against the entire world,” Kaptur and other caucus leaders said in a statement. “Putin has repeatedly justified his aggression with lies, but the world must understand that he spills innocent blood because freedom and democracy are his true enemies.”

U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup

Wenstrup, R-cincinnati, accused Putin of trying to paint Russia in the image of the former Soviet Union instead of a “responsibl­e global state.” In addition to further sanctions, he argued the U.S. should send humanitari­an aid to Ukraine and engage both countries diplomatic­ally, but firmly.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan

Ryan, a Democrat from Niles, Trumbull County who is also running for U.S. Senate, said Putin would come to regret his decision.

“Vladimir Putin’s insatiable pursuit of power has driven him to a decision that will kill innocent men, women and children in a democratic nation,” he said. “The United States, in coordinati­on with our European allies, must impose the strongest possible sanctions and work swiftly to make him pay for the pain and suffering he has already caused and will continue to cause.”

J.D. Vance

“Hillbilly Elegy” author and U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance has said the U.S. shouldn’t be involved in the conflict at all, calling it a distractio­n that has

nothing to do with American interests.

“I gotta be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another,” the Cincinnati resident said in an interview last week. “I do care about the fact that in my community right now the leading cause of death among 18-45 year-olds is Mexican fentanyl that’s coming across the southern border.”

Josh Mandel

The former state treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate has called Putin “an anti-american, anti-freedom, Communist thug.” At the same time, he repeatedly blamed the conflict on Biden and argued it wouldn’t happen under Trump’s watch.

“Two weeks ago in Beijing, Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping and Kgb-man Vladimir Putin met and released a statement focused on the downfall of America through ‘redistribu­tion of power in the world,’” Mandel said. “I agree with President Trump that the reason Putin and Xi didn’t act out during the Trump administra­tion is because America had a strong military, a strong commander-in-chief and an aggressive approach to domestic energy production. As a Marine and Iraq war vet serving in the U.S. Senate, I will do everything I can to continue the Trump doctrine of a strong military and export of American natural gas in order to prevent other people’s sons and daughters from having to go to war.”

Jane Timken

Republican U.S. Senate candidate

Jane Timken said the conflict will impact energy prices in the U.S.

“I believe ‘America First’ means protecting American security interests at home and abroad, and a Russian-controlled Ukraine will directly impact American energy prices causing Ohioans to pay more at the gas pump, fuel food inflation, and further disrupt supply chains while sending a blaring notice to China, North Korea and Iran that America and our allies are vulnerable,” she said Monday.

Timken’s husband is a board member for Timken Co. and served as CEO of Timkenstee­l, which spun off from Timken Co. in 2014. The company came under fire in 2014 for supplying bearings for rail cars in Russia as the country fought to annex Crimea.

Company officials have said Jane Timken never worked there. She and her husband own and have made money off Timken Co. stock, according to her financial disclosure.

Mike Gibbons

In a statement Tuesday, Gibbons noted that he grew up in Parma “among a vibrant Ukrainian-american community” and said Russia must face consequenc­es.

“Joe Biden’s appeasemen­t has led to disastrous results,” he said. “The world is a safer place when America is strong. Our allies need to be able to trust us, and our enemies need to fear us.”

Matt Dolan

At a campaign stop in Dayton Wednesday, the state senator running for U.S. Senate said Putin capitalize­d on a lack of trust in U.S. leaders after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanista­n. Going forward, he said sanctions must target Russian currency and oil.

“(Putin’s) got his own political, historical agenda that he’s trying to accomplish,” Dolan said. “I think he’s trying to relive the Soviet Union in his own mind. But he has the wherewitha­l to do it now because the oil production has gone so much up in Russia that he’s got the money to do this.”

Morgan Harper

The Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate tweeted Thursday: “The people of Ukraine do not deserve this heinous attack by Putin. This devastatin­g and unnecessar­y loss of life justifies aggressive sanctions to protect global security.”

Haley Bemiller is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizati­ons across Ohio.

 ?? EVGENIY MALOLETKA/AP ?? Smoke rises from an air defense base in the aftermath of an apparent Russian strike in Mariupol, Ukraine on Thursday. Russian troops have launched their anticipate­d attack on Ukraine.
EVGENIY MALOLETKA/AP Smoke rises from an air defense base in the aftermath of an apparent Russian strike in Mariupol, Ukraine on Thursday. Russian troops have launched their anticipate­d attack on Ukraine.

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