A group of Ukrainian Americans gathered in Westwood on Thursday to express outrage over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while Southland leaders condemned the aggression and called for the most severe sanctions possible.

Rep. Mike Garcia (CA-25) said he was praying for the “innocent civilians and military personnel in harm’s way in Ukraine. Garcia laid partial blame, however, for the attack on the Biden administration’s failure to create “a stronger deterrence and failing to demonstrate to the world that the United States and our allies will be respected.”

Rep. Katie Porter (CA-45) called the Russian attack “a dark time for the people of Ukraine and for our global peace and security.”

“The United States must stand steadfast against Russian authoritarianism and unprovoked aggression,” Porter said in a statement. “Together with partners and allies, we must support Ukraine, hold Russia accountable and be prepared to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28) called the invasion “an attack on the idea that countries are free to choose their own destiny, an attack on the rules-based order that has kept world peace since WWII. And most critically, an attack on democracy itself.”

Schiff called for the most severe sanctions possible against Russia in response to the military action, targeting its banks, financial markets and “oligarchs.” “This is Putin’s war—senseless, tragic and barbaric,” Schiff said on his Twitter account. “We must enact debilitating sanctions on Russia and cut them off from the global economy. And, in the meantime, we pray for the Ukrainian people. An end to this madness.”

In Westwood, several dozen people held a rally against the military assault. They waved Ukrainian flags, played the Ukrainian national anthem and held signs with slogans including “Help save my home” and “Stop Putin.”

“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,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in a statement. “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,” Feinstein continued. “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.”

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