Connecticut’s Candidates for Congress Weigh in on Continued Aid for Ukraine


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The Background

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Congress has approved about $66 billion in funding for Ukraine — $13.6 billion in March, $40 billion in May and $12.3 billion in September. 

That funding has been directed toward furnishing weapons systems, training, equipment, research and development, as well as for U.S. forces stationed in NATO countries abroad.

About $16 billion has been appropriated to aid Ukrainian refugees, provide economic support to the Ukrainian government, offset food shortages resulting from the disruption of exports from Ukraine, and to provide funds to combat human trafficking. 

Earlier this month, Congress approved an additional $725 million for weapons and munitions, including rounds for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems. 

That support has raised a variety of concerns in the press and among Democrats and Republicans in Congress.  

On the national level, a number of Republican members of Congress and candidates say they will not support a “blank check” for aid to Ukraine, and have called for “oversight and accountability” on funds already approved. 

On Tuesday, thirty progressive Democrats in Congress signed a letter to President Joe Biden urging direct talks with Russia as part of a “proactive diplomatic push” toward a ceasefire. That letter was quickly withdrawn. 

The Question

CT Examiner asked candidates for Congress whether they felt the current U.S. policy toward the Russia-Ukraine conflict was correct, and whether they would support or oppose significant reductions to military aid for Ukraine. 

Answers below have been edited and condensed for clarity. 

1st Congressional District

Rep. John Larson (D)

I stand with the people of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. Under the leadership of President Biden, our country has led the way to support Ukraine on the world stage – working with our allies to defund the Russian war machine and supply the Ukrainian defense. To date, we have authorized $66 billion in aid to Ukraine, which President Zelenskyy said has made the difference in their efforts. I will continue to support funding to ensure the Ukrainian people have what they need to stand up to Putin. House Republicans’ commitment to cut support for Ukraine is cruel. I will always stand with Ukraine and its people. Connecticut’s delegation will continue to be the firewall against the extreme Republican agenda in Congress, including their latest proposal to reduce aid for Ukraine.

Larry Lazor (R)

Staunch opposition to the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine is not a partisan position. The Russian government’s actions are not only a violation of basic human decency, but also a grave risk to world peace and stability. Recklessly raising nuclear tensions, targeting nuclear reactors in Ukraine, cutting off energy supplies to Europe, and emboldening other rogue states like Iran and North Korea to wreak similar havoc is unacceptable. It must be stopped.

That is why I support strong resistance to this invasion through diplomatic means like sanctions and the continued supply of weapons and advice to Ukraine. However, that is not enough. The United States must re-emphasize its commitment to coalition allies, especially NATO, who help us deter rogue nations and navigate trying times. We must also continue to build up our own forces so we maintain a qualitative military edge over any conceivable foe – which acts as a key deterrent. We must be strategic and use the wide range of tools at our disposal to put a stop to this invasion and make it abundantly clear to Putin and the leaders of all other rogue states that their crimes will not be tolerated.

Mary Sanders (Green)

The US/NATO have surrounded Russia’s borders with aggressive military weapons which have created the tragic situation of death and destruction in the Ukraine. The US government has supported the expansion of NATO east to the border of Russia, steering the region into war in order to feed the Military-Industrial-Intelligence Complex like they have done so many times before.

I would work for an immediate ceasefire and relief for the victims while stopping the export of arms to Ukraine. Humanitarian and economic development is needed, not more weapons! I support a UN Security Council guarantee of neutrality and security for Ukraine and UN-mediated solution to the questions of the Donbas, and Crimea, with its warm-water port, Sebastopol. We need a new International Disarmament Convention, to eliminate all nuclear weapons. And last but not least, we need to stop the eastward expansion of NATO into Ukraine and the rest of the region. We have to stop this pattern of instigating wars and pushing for regime change in pursuit of resources.

2nd Congressional District

Rep. Joe Courtney (D) 

The impressive success of the Ukrainian forces that continue to defy conventional wisdom in pushing back on Russia’s illegal invasion shows that bipartisan, robust, and steady support for Ukraine is succeeding. This is not the time to reduce or cast doubt on U.S. and international support for Ukraine. Kevin McCarthy’s suggestion that a Republican-controlled Congress under his leadership might scale back our commitment to our ally will only provide aid and comfort to Vladimir Putin.

State Rep. Mike France (R) 

We have an obligation and a very real interest in standing up to dictators like Putin, but we also have an obligation to the American soldier and taxpayer.  In the last two years, Democrats in the House, Senate and White House have sent $15.8 billion dollars in military aid to Ukraine whilst leaving behind $7 billion in military equipment in Afghanistan. 

Moreover, every Democrat on the House Oversight Committee voted against an amendment that would have tracked and potentially recovered this military equipment left in the hands of the Taliban. So until Washington can show the American people not just transparency but also a cogent plan, I will not support any more blank checks. 

Kevin Blacker (Green)

I don’t know.  The reason I don’t know is because I do not understand what the United States’ true motivation behind our involvement in Ukraine is.  I know what I hear on the news and read in the paper.  And I know well enough that propaganda is mixed with fact in that reporting.  Before I decided on action, I’d need to find the truth.  I’d do that by seeking advice from other members of Congress, as well as non-political military and intelligence workers that I trusted.  As a member of Congress I expect I would have access to more information than the average citizen- this would help guide my decision. As many recall, Scott Bates advised heavily the War on Terror…. Supposedly an expert, his judgment informed major national security policy and funding decisions.  Before I sought the advice of “experts” like him I’d seek out 1st generation immigrants from Russia and Ukraine that live in the second district- their unvarnished perspective and advice would be invaluable.

3rd Congressional District

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D)

I strongly believe the United States has an obligation to continue supporting Ukraine as they fight back against this illegal invasion of their sovereign territory — which happened because Ukraine wanted democracy and to be allied with the West. As Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, I have overseen over $66 billion in emergency funding to support the Ukrainian people and defend global democracy in the wake of Russia’s unprovoked and malicious attack. Just last month, Congress passed an additional $12.4 billion in assistance related to Ukraine, including training, equipment, weapons, logistics support, and direct financial support for the government of Ukraine. We will continue demonstrating to the Ukrainian people that in the face of ongoing Russian aggression – we will not let them down.

Lesley DeNardis (R)

The act of naked and unprovoked Russian aggression towards Ukraine when it invaded its territory in February 2022 constitutes one of the most devastating foreign policy disasters since World War II.  My heart goes out to the Ukrainian people who have had to endure untold suffering at the hands of Putin.  The conflict, now in its 8th month, is a humanitarian disaster with massive human casualties and the displacement of over 3 million Ukrainian people who have poured into Europe to flee the disaster.

As the result of Biden’s statement signaling to Putin that he would tolerate a minor incursion by Russia into Ukraine, we are now seeing the consequences of this feckless foreign policy blunder and we are paying the price.  The U.S. has allocated billions of dollars of foreign aid to Ukraine in the form of armaments and troops.  While we want to support the Ukrainian people in their efforts to defend itself against Russia, we can and we must do more to encourage other countries to share the costs.  The prolonged conflict is showing signs of Russia’s weakening power as it has incurred losses due to the Ukrainian counteroffensive.  U.S. sanctions are starting to take a toll on the Russian economy. However, we must pressure our NATO allies to contribute their fair share towards providing security in their own backyard.  We can’t fall into the historical pattern of the U.S. footing most of the bill. Also, a long term plan to adequately fund the U.S. Defense Department will allow the U.S. to return to a foreign policy of  “peace through strength” to deter any would be aggressors in the future.

Amy Chai (Independent) 

I oppose proxy wars, and our proxy war with Russia is no exception. I do not believe that it is ethical for America to be the “Arms Dealer to the World.” I demand a strong, cutting edge military, but I also demand careful boundaries around how that military might is deployed. Proxy war meddling has been and continues to be a stain on the American conscience and a disruptive force for the worse on the global scale, with toxic reverberations felt decades later on American security and American soft power. 

If I were sent to Washington, I would end arms escalation in the Ukraine. I would ALSO end arms sent to Saudi Arabia for the shameful destruction of Yemen. I would continue to oppose proxy wars that may occur in the future. I would put greater American effort into diplomacy. Diplomacy is not the same thing as appeasement. I would work to strengthen soft power abroad to give us a “carrot and stick” for leverage in international relations. 

I would clean house on energy dealings and corruption inside the beltway that leads to treacherous and unwholesome interactions with bad actors globally. Corruption and lack of energy independence makes America vulnerable. These two issues need to be addressed because of the interplay that occurs with military actions abroad. 

Justin Pagliano (Green)

As long as Kiev refuses to allow independence for Donbas, there will be no peaceful resolution.  Our position as outsiders to this conflict should be to demand a withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine together with independence for Donbas – giving each side largely what it wants but not everything. This would be a compromise that leaders should agree to in the interests of peace, in the interest of the lives of the innocents dying violent deaths since 2014.  Now that we have worked to topple democracy in Ukraine, which sparked war in 2014, and now that we have failed to bring an end to the war, the US needs to demand of Kiev that it agree to the terms of the Minsk accords.  I support western Ukraine in defending itself from Russian invasion.  However, I also support independence for Donbas.   Therefore, my position is that military support for Ukraine should be made conditional on Kiev not engaging in conflict in the Donbas region, or in Crimea.  Those regions are entitled to self determination, a right that has been denied to them since the overthrow of their democratically elected president 8 years ago.

4th Congressional District

Rep. Jim Himes (D)

Last week I led a bipartisan delegation of Intelligence Committee members to Ukraine. We met with President Zelenskyy and other senior government officials to reassure them of continued U.S. aid military and non-military aid. Ukraine is fighting our, and the world’s, fight; for democracy, the rule of law, and basic human decency. Dictators in China, Iran, and North Korea are watching to see how much we care about those things.

Jayme Stevenson (R)

A free, strong and democratic Ukraine is in America’s interest. The administration was slow to provide aid to the Ukrainians and still has not applied full economic pressure on Russia. When I am in Congress, I will make sure Ukraine has the tools it needs to win and that Russia knows its economy and military cannot survive such illegal aggression against our allies.

5th Congressional District

Rep. Jahana Hayes (D)

I support providing Ukraine with the necessary assistance to protect themselves against Russian aggression. This is not a blank check; our support helps Americans by promoting democracy. If Russia is successful in their invasion of Ukraine, we will have reached a point of no return in that region. We cannot let that happen and must do what we can to counter it.

George Logan (R)

Yes, I believe we need to provide resources and funding to Ukraine to defend itself from Russia. Supporting Ukraine is in the best interest of the safety and security of the United States and the rest of the world. We also need to account for where the funding and resources are going. We can’t blindly send billions to Ukraine without a clear outline of where it’s going and how it’s being spent. The situation in Ukraine changes on a daily basis, and when I go to Congress, I will assess the situation for what it is at that exact time.

Emilia Otte

Emilia Otte covers health and education for the Connecticut Examiner. In 2022 Otte was awarded "Rookie of the Year," by the New England Newspaper & Press Association.