San Diego Congressional Delegation Unites in Opposition to Ukraine Invasion

In a rare moment of nonpartisanship, all the local leaders are united in their reaction to the developments in Europe

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In the wake of Russia's invasion of its neighbor, San Diego County's elected leaders have lent their voices to those joining in solidarity with Ukraine.

In a rare but not entirely surprising moment of nonpartisanship, all the local leaders NBC 7 heard from on Thursday are united in their opposition to the developments in Europe.

President Joe Biden made the announcement during his State of the Union address Tuesday, joining the European Union and Canada in a similar ban.

On Thursday, NBC 7 spoke to Rep. Juan Vargas, who represents the 51st Congressional District, which encompasses the southernmost area of San Diego and all of Imperial County. The congressman said he thought the outcome of the conflict was a fait accompli.

"It's not just the eastern part of Ukraine — they're going to take the whole country," Vargas said. "They’re trying to change the government there, obviously, and to do that, they have to decapitate them, which means they have to take Kyev and they're going to do it quickly."

Vargas also said he had concerns about the U.S. becoming involved, if only digitally, in the situation on the other side of the globe.

Even if Russian forces take over Ukraine quickly, many Ukrainian citizens would object and fight back, says Chris Miller, professor of international history at Tufts University. Miller says Russian President Vladimir Putin would likely "rather just get Ukraine without an occupation." But if Russian forces were stationed in Ukraine for a long time, they could face attacks from unofficial Ukrainian military groups even after a formal war is over. NBCLX storyteller Clark Fouraker reports.

"We should definitely be worried about Russian cyber-attacks now," Vargas said. "Russia, as we know, way back when they attacked Estonia, they were very successful. Now we’ve hardened our systems, and we know what they’re attempting to do."

In addition to those concerns, Vargas said he was worried about what the future of the conflict.

"We’re at war now, and when you get into war like this, terrible things happen, bad things happen, and bad things are going to happen around the world," Vargas said.

Reactions From Congressional Members

NBC 7 reached out to members of the Senate and House for their reactions regarding the developments in Europe and received the following responses — Ed.

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.-50th District):

This is a disastrous day for free nations everywhere and a direct assault by tyranny and aggression that will compel the world to take notice.

This is also a defining moment for the Biden Administration, which has manifestly failed to bolster a coalition of allies and partners to keep and secure the peace. At this time, the credibility of this White House is on the line, and we need the kind of of leadership from the President that we clearly have yet to see.

America should stand with Ukraine and its people in their hour of need. They are not alone in this fight. America and NATO are being tested. And at this moment, they are failing that test.

U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.):

Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable invasion of a sovereign, democratic nation is reckless and a threat to democracy around the world. We stand with the brave people of Ukraine and continue to coordinate with our allies in imposing severe costs on Putin and his cronies.

I applaud President Biden’s decisive response and his administration’s efforts to rally the international community in support of Ukraine over the last several weeks. Putin’s thirst for violence, with no regard for innocent civilians, has serious national security and economic implications for the American people and the world. Our unity must remain ironclad in the face of this assault on democracy.

Rep. Sara Jacobs (R-Calif.-53rd District):

I condemn President Putin’s unjustified attack on Ukraine that will have devastating and deadly consequences for the Ukrainian people and widespread consequences for the European continent. I stand with the Ukrainian people who woke up to Putin’s declaration of war, to explosions rocking their cities and to a new and horrifying reality for the future.

When I visited Ukraine with my colleagues last month, it was clear that the United States Congress and the Biden Administration — along with our NATO allies and partners — are united in our strong support for the Ukrainian people.

As a representative of a proud military community, my constituents understand better than most the devastating consequences of war. I am grateful that President Biden and Secretary Blinken have prioritized diplomacy and offered Putin every opportunity to take another path. It is shameful that Putin was unwilling to seriously engage and find a diplomatic solution.

But diplomacy does not stop when the shooting starts. In fact, that is when it is more important than ever. We have to continue to keep diplomatic channels open and look for opportunities for de-escalation and an end to human suffering. 

“n my experience working on conflict around the world, I know that diplomacy works best when paired with clear costs and consequences. That’s why it's important that the United States and our European partners hold Putin and his government accountable, while providing clear conditions and off-ramps, and mitigating the costs for everyday people — Ukrainian, Russian, European and American — who had nothing to do with this decision. 

The United States and our European partners must also prepare to welcome Ukrainians fleeing war and persecution. I urge President Biden to raise the refugee cap and allow in as many Ukrainian refugees as possible, and work with our European partners to ensure they are prepared to do the same.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.):

The world woke up today to heavy bombing in Europe, the likes of which we haven’t seen since World War II. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an unprovoked attack with no justification, and it is incumbent on all nations to ensure that Putin and his government are met with severe consequences. Putin must understand that such aggression will not stand.

The United States stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our NATO allies against any further Russian belligerence. The alliance is strong and united. And the U.S. government has done an excellent job collecting and disseminating intelligence on Russian plans to make clear that Russia intended this invasion all along and fabricated pretenses to launch it. I’m confident the intelligence community will continue this critical work.

There is no question that Putin’s actions have been destructive and dangerous and pose the risk of escalating into a broader war in Europe. Even more dangerous are his suggestions of nuclear action and threats against the United States and NATO. Any such move will be met with an overwhelming response, and Congress must come together to make that message crystal clear.

Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.-49th District):

Russia’s invasion of an independent and sovereign Ukraine is a blatant assault on international law and shows a callous disregard for the loss of innocent life that will occur as a result of its violent attack. I expect the Biden Administration and our allies to continue to implement increasingly severe sanctions on Vladimir Putin, his cronies, and the Russian government, as promised. While I will continue to hope for a diplomatic resolution, it is clear that Putin is determined to expand Russia’s sphere of influence in Eastern Europe through disinformation, division, and force. I am confident the United States and our global allies will remain united in holding Putin accountable, supporting Ukraine’s right to defend itself, and upholding our democratic values.

Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.-52nd District):

The evolving situation in Ukraine is heartbreaking and outrageous. Putin’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine challenges the very principles our country stands for: respect for national sovereignty, the legitimacy of self-governance and the resolution of grievances through a rules-based global order. This unnecessary war of choice is devastating for Ukraine and blatantly violates international law.

I stand by President Biden’s recent actions to invoke tough sanctions against Russia, in concert with our NATO allies and like-minded partners across the globe. As Americans and those around the world hold Ukraine in our hearts in the days and weeks to come, we commit to work with our allies and partners to aid the Ukrainians on the frontlines, halt further Russian aggression and preserve Ukraine’s right to a future of democracy and self-determination.

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