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Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., offered her predictions for President Biden’s upcoming State of the Union address on Tuesday amid the turmoil in Ukraine, urging him to give a special shout-out to her Ukrainian-American colleague, Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Russian missiles have hit the capital city of Kyiv and, on Tuesday – day six of the invasion – a government building in Kharkiv. A child is among those reported injured in the explosion, but the total number of casualties and injured remains unknown. A 40-mile Russian convoy is also threatening Kyiv. Throughout the turmoil, Ukrainian families have been separated in attempts to flee the country.
For the moment, Ukraine remains in control of the country.
When Biden takes the podium Tuesday night, Stefanik said, first and foremost, the American people need to hear that the U.S. is going to lead on strengthening sanctions against Russia.
“We need to hear from the commander in chief that we’re going to lead, and that does not mean boots on the ground, that means strengthening sanctions, that means 100% swift sanctions – which again we’re only at 80%,” Stefanik told Fox News Digital. “That also means sanctioning the energy sector, and that means unleashing American energy domestic production. American energy independence.”
But, Stefanik did not have high hopes, saying, “I do not think the president of the United States will deliver” and adding his year of “weak” foreign policy in part led to the current chaos.
Stefanik singled out Rep. Spartz as someone who deserves special recognition during Biden’s speech. Spartz, who is Ukrainian-American, urged the U.S. to do more to help the Ukrainian people during a Republican news conference on Tuesday.
“They want to be with the United States of America,” Spartz said of Ukrainians. “They want to be free people. They want to be with the West.”
“I think the most important voice in the United States Congress on the issue of Ukraine is Victoria Spartz,” Stefanik said.
Stefanik said Spartz spoke “passionately from the heart, and tragically.”
“Her family’s experience in Ukraine, the fact that this is essentially a genocide,” Stefanik said. “These are war crimes being committed and how ineffective Joe Biden’s response, deterrence, and how ineffective he has been as commander in chief. She deserves a shout-out by Joe Biden, she deserves answers by Joe Biden, and I fear she’s not going to get them.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has remained in Ukraine despite instructions to evacuate. He was given a standing ovation after his emotional speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday.
“Ukrainians, we know exactly what we are defending. We will definitely win,” Zelenskyy said. “Glory to each of our soldiers. Glory to Ukraine.”
Biden and Zelenskyy spoke for over 30 minutes on Tuesday, according to a White House official.
The president’s Twitter account said the two leaders met “to discuss our continued support for Ukraine — including security assistance and humanitarian aid — as it defends itself against Russian aggression.”
“We will hold Russia accountable, and our sanctions are already having a devastating impact,” Biden added.