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Indiana Republican lawmaker Victoria Spartz, who was born in Ukraine and emigrated to the United States, gave an impassioned plea for more action from the United States government to stop the "genocide" of the Ukrainian people at the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin's invading troops.
"This is not a war. This is a genocide of the Ukrainian people by a crazy man who cannot get over that Ukrainian people do not want socialism, Soviet Union, communism," Spartz said Tuesday at the House Republican leadership press conference. She wore the colors of Ukraine's flag to stand in solidarity with the people there, who have been attacked by Russia without provocation. "They want to be with the United States of America. They want to be free people, they want to be with the West," she said.
Spartz shared a personal story about her Russian-born grandmother, who is 95 and is currently living in Chernihiv, a city in northern Ukraine. The city has been hit by heavy shelling from Russian artillery, and the most recent news is that Belarusian forces have crossed the border and joined the siege.
"They are bombing civilians non-stop, day and night. The whole city," Spartz said, becoming emotional as she related what she's heard from her grandmother, who spoke with another relative living in a small village outside Chernihiv.
"Her daughter told her [the Russians] came into [the] village with heavy machine guns [and] killed almost every person in that village. And whatever people were left, women and children, they forced them to walk in front of the tanks as a human shield because they cannot take that city," the congresswoman told reporters, fighting tears.
She shared words from her grandmother, who said: "No, don't cry. We are not crying here. We're going to fight, but just give us some guns so we don't just fight with sticks."
MUST WATCH: Indiana Congresswoman @Victoria_Spartz delivers a passionate speech on the crisis in Ukraine.\n\n"This president needs to get his act together and exercise some leadership. What's happening under his watch is [an] atrocity."pic.twitter.com/1yPmGdLCBl— RNC Research (@RNC Research) 1646156366
The lawmaker told other stories of how Russian troops are allegedly shooting women and children and committing war crimes, including using illegal thermobaric weapons. Reports indicate that Russia has used "vacuum bombs," also known as fuel-air explosives, which use one explosive charge to spread fuel in a cloud that sucks up oxygen and flows around objects. A second charge then detonates the cloud, causing a massive explosion that is particularly destructive inside closed spaces like buildings or foxholes.
"They are leveling the cities to the ground! Destroying the people, slaughtering them like animals. They are killing people — it is not a war, it's a genocide because we have a crazy man that believes he has the whole world hostage," Spartz said, speaking with righteous indignation.
She criticized President Joe Biden for not doing enough to support Ukraine, emphasizing that America is not being asked to go fight, but the Ukraine is asking for more help with defense and for "serious" sanctions.
The United States, European Union, and other allied nations have imposed severe economic sanctions against Russian financial institutions and government personnel, including Putin himself. Western governments have also pledged to remove some Russian banks from SWIFT, a messaging service that connects financial institutions around the world, as punishment for Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
But Republicans have criticized Biden for not going further and sanctioning Russia's energy sector. While White House press secretary Jen Psaki told Fox News on Tuesday that energy sanctions are not "off the table," she said the president is focused on "minimizing the impact on the global markets and the American people."
Economic sanctions on Russia's energy industry, while extremely punitive, would cause energy prices in countries that import oil from Russia to increase sharply, including in the U.S.
But for Spartz and others opposed to Russia's aggression, the sacrifice may be worth it to stop the war.
"I can tell you one thing. If we don't stop [Putin] there, he is not going to stop. He is going to go further. And then we'll have to send our children to die to fight this. So I think we have an obligation and duty to save this world, help Ukrainian people to survive," Spartz said.
"And this president needs to get his act together and exercise some leadership. What's happening under his watch is [an] atrocity. What he's doing to this country and to the world is unforgivable, but I think we'll get together as Republicans and Democrats, but act decisively fast or this blood of many millions of Ukrainans will be on his hands too," she warned.
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