Five days ago, Russia shocked the international community by launching a full-scale invasion into neighboring Ukraine.
Many political analysts have called this invasion one of the largest attacks on a sovereign nation in Europe since World War II, and the lowest point in the relationship between Russia and the western allies of NATO since the Cold War.
Tensions between Russia and NATO have been high ever since 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and supported the ethnic-Russian separatist states of Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republic in their eight year war against the Ukrainian government in the eastern Donbas region.
Russia threatened to intervene in Ukraine for months, as Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to accept Ukraine’s decision to move away from Russia, a country that Ukraine was historically, culturally, and politically close to, and move towards the west by applying for NATO and EU membership.
The invasion began early in the morning on Feb. 24, after Putin publicly stated that Russia was to “demilitarize and denazify” Ukraine, referring to the pro-Western government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a “military junta.” These actions resulted in widespread condemnation from NATO and the United Nations, and a call by these organizations for international sanctions on Russia.
Many U.S. politicians publicly denounced Putin and the Russian invasion and spoke out in support of the Ukrainian government and people, who began to fight back against the Russians after suffering substantial damages to their major cities from bombings and military raids.
Among these politicians was U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan of Westford, who condemned Putin for the Russian invasion and accused him of being the aggressor in escalating the war against Ukraine.
“Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is a violation of international law,” Trahan said. “It constitutes a massively destabilizing event with repercussions that are going to be felt for a long time and Putin’s actions are that of a rogue, power hungry dictator’s desire to resurrect the glory days of the Soviet Union, no matter the cost.”
In response to Russia’s invasion, NATO began to deploy soldiers and weapons along Ukraine’s western and southern borders in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. Although Ukraine is not a NATO member meaning that U.S. or other western troops cannot be deployed there, many U.S. politicians have agreed to send military and humanitarian support to Ukraine, as well as place military and economic sanctions on Russia.
“I think the goal right now needs to be an immediate drawdown of Russian military forces, that protects Ukraine sovereignty and that must be the international community’s top priority,” Trahan said.
Much of the sanctions have already gone into affect, with U.S. airspace closed off the Russian planes, Russian bank accounts inaccessible from the U.S., and many stores across the country no longer selling Russian goods and products.
“The sanctions announced (Thursday) are just the second tranche and they’re devastating for Putin’s military and his allies financially, but they’re still just the start, especially if Russia refuses to back down,” Trahan said.
“So we’re starting with his inner circle and the next step is targeting Putin himself and ensuring that Russia is economically isolated from the rest of the world. And all that because there can be no mistake that invading without cause a peaceful neighbor comes with harsh consequences,” she added.
Many lawmakers have already proposed a ban on Russian goods and products in Massachusetts. Among them is state Rep. Patrick Kearney, who recently introduced a bill that would block the purchase of Russian imports such as alcohol and oil from being sold across the state. The bill is currently under review in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Massachusetts is home to fair sized community of Ukrainian-Americans. Upon hearing the news of the invasion last Thursday, hundreds of Ukrainian-Americans gathered outside of the Massachusetts State House to condemn the Russian attack on Ukraine.
The protestors called on members of the Massachusetts state government, the U.S. federal government and the Massachusetts and U.S. public to support Ukraine in the war, and to arm and defend the country from the Russian attack.
Protests have continued nearly every day across the state since the invasion, with Ukrainians, Americans and others attempting to unite around the defense of their country and stopping the ongoing war.