On Sunday, local supporters of Ukraine rallied.

On Monday, Pennsylvania elected officials acted.

As the grim second anniversary of the Ukraine-Russia War arrived, about 700 people came to the famous steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a rally on Sunday, encouraging the U.S. to continue supporting Ukraine as funding for the war-torn country remains stalled in Congress.

On Monday, Pennsylvania officials announced a law is in effect that prevents companies connected to Russia and Belarus from receiving Pennsylvania state contracts, grants or tax credits.

“My constituents of Ukrainian descent have been clear. They do not want their tax dollars supporting the war crimes committed by Russia,” said state Sen. Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill/Carbon/Luzerne). “We should not be investing in companies that support the attempt of Putin’s Russia to extinguish democracy in Ukraine.”

Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity said, “After Vladamir Putin’s unjustified and illegal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, I immediately ended the Pennsylvania Treasury Department’s investments in any Russian and Belarusian entities. I strongly support Sen. Argall’s work to ensure that no state funds are given to any company connected to Russia or Belarus.”

“The Ukrainian American community thanks and salutes Pennsylvania for its steadfast, consistent, and persistent support of Ukraine and her people,” said Towamencin resident Eugene Luciw, president of the Philadelphia branch of the Congress Committee of America. He praised the actions of Keystone State leaders.

“At the very outset of Putin’s brutal, indeed genocidal, criminal attack on Ukraine and her innocent people, Pennsylvania imposed a round of harsh, comprehensive sanctions against Russia. It dispossessed itself of all Russian assets, most notably those held by government employee pension plans. Gov. Wolf also sent non-lethal military aid in the guise of, among other things, surplus body armor and helmets. Monies were set aside to assist expected refugees,” Luciw said.

Argall introduced the bill that would become Act 57 of 2023 at the outset of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The bill ultimately received unanimous, bipartisan support in both chambers of the General Assembly and was signed into law by Gov. Josh Shapiro on Dec. 14, 2023.

The law prevents companies from receiving state contracts, grants, or tax credits if the U.S. Treasury Department finds they are owned, controlled by, or acting on behalf of the Russian or Belarusian governments.

Far more significant, foreign policy experts say, was Monday’s vote by Hungary approving Sweden as the 32nd member of NATO, adding its military to the collective opposition to Russian expansion.

Over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shared the number of Ukrainian soldiers — 31,000 — killed since Russia’s invasion two years ago. He declined to give the number of wounded or the total civilian loss count, saying that information would aid the Putin regime.

Last year, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova for the war crime of unlawful deportation and transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia.

Luciw added, “Not only has the commonwealth continuously maintained its sanctions against Russia and its malign actors, but it now honors the second anniversary of Ukraine’s valiant defense of its own and the free world’s liberty and democracy by expanding the scope of its measures to companies connected with the Russian government. These punitive actions complement the sanctions that the Biden administration just announced quite well.

“We are proud of our commonwealth,” said Luciw. “It is at the lead among all states in the union and stands as a model for local and federal governments throughout the free world.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or Facebook.com/DelawareValleyJournal