Illinois politicians call for unity, holding Russia’s Putin accountable

Lawmakers react to Russia’s attack of Ukraine

People take part in a vigil to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine in front of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

In response to Russia’s wide-ranging attack on Ukraine, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Thursday morning Russian leader Vladimir Putin must be held accountable.

A U.S. Air Force veteran and Foreign Affairs Committee member, Kinzinger, R-Channahon, has been active on Twitter the past two days, calling for Russia’s removal from the SWIFT payment system and calling for FIM-92 stinger missiles to be used against Russian forces.

President Joe Biden, for now, held off on imposing some of the most severe sanctions, including cutting Russia out of the SWIFT payment system, which allows for the transfers of money from bank to bank around the globe, or Russia’s energy sector.

Biden on Thursday announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russian banks, oligarchs and high-tech sectors.

Politicians across Illinois weighed in on the crisis Thursday, including Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who visited Poland and Lithuania earlier this week. The senator called for Americans to put aside political differences and unite against the Russian attack. He tweeted the U.S. is looked to as the only nation that can lead an allied effort to stop Putin.

“Let me be clear: Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine’s sovereign land is a dire threat to the established international order and must be resolutely deterred,” Durbin said on Twitter. “Ukraine and our NATO allies facing ongoing Russian belligerence have strong bipartisan, bicameral support in the U.S. Congress. As someone who has strong ties to the region, my prayers are with the Ukrainian people and all of Eastern Europe.”

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth agreed Putin must be held accountable for “any blood spilled” and called on the U.S. and its allies to react immediately.

“Putin’s unprovoked and inexcusable escalation of this violent invasion will succeed in only one thing: uniting the free world against Russia’s autocratic regime in support of Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty, its people and its right to self-governance,” Duckworth said.

U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, R-Oakland, pointed the finger at Biden for his policy.

“Americans miss the ‘Peace Through Strength’ and energy independence that were achieved during the Trump Administration,” Miller said. “President Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and dismantling of US energy production have severely weakened our national security.”

Kinzinger was critical of conservative leaders and commentators, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who have made pro-Putin comments.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, said Thursday democracy was on the line and it was up to the U.S. to make a choice: Will it stand for freedom or cower to dictators? She said she approved of Biden imposing economic sanctions.

Other Illinois politicians weighed in:

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria: I condemn Russia’s unprovoked & unjustified attacks against Ukraine. Putin alone has chosen a path of bloodshed in Ukraine. America & the free world must stand with Ukraine by enacting the strongest possible sanctions & crippling Russia’s ability to make war. Pray for Ukraine.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster,D-Naperville: Putin’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine is a destabilizing threat to Europe and the entire international order. The US, our NATO allies, and our international partners must hold Putin accountable for this unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation.

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove): Less than 3 years ago, it was our own government who was willing to risk Ukrainian security in order to secure an assault on our democracy. Ukraine stood up for democracy and the rule of law in that moment. We will now return the favor and stand up to protect theirs. My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine and the Ukrainian-Americans in Illinois with loved ones braving this assault on global peace, security, and their homes.

Gov. JB Pritzker: Across Illinois and America, we should all stand with the people of Ukraine and democracy today.

Derek Barichello

Derek Barichello

Derek Barichello is the news editor for The Times in Ottawa and NewsTribune in La Salle, part of Shaw Local News Network, covering La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties. He covers local and breaking news in the areas of government, education, business and crime and courts, among others.