Montana's Congresional delegation reacts to Russian invasion | 406 Politics | billingsgazette.com – Billings Gazette

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U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, left, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, center, and U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale.
Deploying U.S. soldiers to Ukraine received strong opposition from Montana’s Congressional delegation Thursday, as lawmakers reacted to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines, as well as at-large Rep. Matt Rosendale rebuked Russia for invading Ukraine.
“Vladimir Putin single-handedly started an unprovoked war that makes the world less safe. I stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and with every freedom-loving democracy in condemning Russia’s illegal military actions,” Tester said in a press release. “The United States will continue to support the security and stability of our NATO and European allies in the face of these acts of war.”
Republicans said U.S. President Joe Biden was to blame for the Russian invasion.
“I’m praying for the people of Ukraine and condemn Putin’s outrageous attack on their sovereignty and independence,” Daines said in a press release. “Putin is a thug, and he has been empowered and emboldened by Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and his approval of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline while killing America’s Keystone XL pipeline. The skyrocketing price of oil and resulting inflation are stark reminders of the importance of increasing, not decreasing, made-in-America energy. I do not support sending American troops to Ukraine.”
President Joe Biden said this week that U.S. forces won’t fight in Ukraine. 
“Although we provided over $650 million in defensive assistance to Ukraine just this year — this last year, let me say it again: Our forces are not and will not be engaged in the conflict with Russia in Ukraine. Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine but to defend our NATO Allies and reassure those Allies in the east,” Biden said in a Thursday address.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is the 760-mile Russia to Germany conduit for natural gas proposed by Russian state-operated Gazprom. The Senate authorized sanctions against Nord Stream contractors in 2019 by an 86-8 bipartisan vote, which both Daines and Tester supported.
In May of 2021, Biden waived sanctions against a Nord Stream contractor, which the White House framed as being done to appease Germany, which is how Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained it to Congress in a hearing livestreamed by C-Span. The pipeline was more than 90% done when the sanctions were lifted.
In January, the Republicans were unsuccessful at getting the 60-votes needed to impose more sanctions on Nord Stream 2.
Wednesday, Biden announced new sanctions against the pipeline project company Nord Stream AG and its corporate officers, a move in partnership with Germany to stop the pipeline in response to a further invasion.
Attempts by Republican lawmakers to associate approval of the now-dead Keystone XL pipeline, as a blow to Putin’s power, date back to at least 2014 and Russia’s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. The talking point recently resurfaced on Fox News as Russia staged its invasion.
Biden has been criticized for not taking up Keystone XL for authorization following former President Trump’s failed promise to get the project approved during his four years in office.
U.S. Rep Matt Rosendale continued with his earlier insistence that the United States not get involved in the Russian invasion and focused instead on securing the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Now that Russia has begun their invasion of Ukraine, cries from war hawks on both sides of the aisle continue to grow louder to spill American blood and treasure in this conflict. We must resist these calls and put America first. The United States has no legal or moral obligation to come to the aid of either side in this foreign conflict,” said Rosendale. “In talking to folks across Montana, they are much more concerned with stopping the invasion taking place in our country by millions of illegal aliens than they are the invasion of an Eastern European country halfway across the world. It is our obligation to secure our nation and put the American people first, not send our sons and daughters to die overseas in a conflict that does not serve our national interests.”
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte issued the following statement: “Putin’s unprovoked invasion of the sovereign, democratic Ukraine is an egregious act of war. Montana stands with the freedom-loving people of Ukraine and continues to pray for their safety. The United States and our democratic allies should respond immediately with sweeping, strict, comprehensive sanctions against Russia.”
Several of the Montana’s 2022 congressional candidates also commented on the war.
“I have first-hand experience with the Russian military in the Baltic, Crimea and Kosovo. Without question, the Russians smell President Biden’s weakness. There can be peace only through strength and resolve. Anything less leads to war and suffering. May God stand with freedom,” Republican Ryan Zinke said on Twitter.
He had originally posted “Breaking: Biden announces he is sending CDC officials to Ukraine to check Russian soldiers’ vaccine passports. Must have 4 boosters or 3 and a negative PCR test for entry. (This is satire for all you Twitter “fact” checkers)” That post, made during the start of the invasion, was deleted after two hours.
“I stand with the people of Ukraine. As a nation we must unite against Russia’s unjustified attack, hold Putin responsible, and work with our allies for freedom and democracy. We cannot and will not tolerate these actions,” wrote Cora Neumann, Democratic candidate for the Western District.
Monica Tranel, a Western District Democratic candidate wrote: “My thoughts tonight are with the people of Ukraine. This unjustified attack by Russia must not be met with silence and I stand in support of our NATO allies. Now is not the time for divisive politics within our own borders, but a strong united voice opposing Russia’s actions.”
Al Olsewski, Republican candidate for the Western District posted this on Facebook: “Putin is the 21st century Hitler and the Allies need to assure he collapses. This never would have happened under Trump.”

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U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, left, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, center, and U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale.
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