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LEACH: Our Love of Life May Disadvantage the U.S. Against Russia’s Putin

A basic rule of human interaction is that whenever there is a stand-off, the side which does not fear possible consequences has a huge advantage. If I am less afraid of losing a deal, or getting punched in the nose than you are, the odds are overwhelming that I will prevail in whatever matter we are involved in.

This fundamental precept is nowhere truer than in the case of nuclear brinkmanship.

In a world where more than one nation has potentially planet-destroying nuclear weapons, the bomb is never supposed to be used. The entire basis of our nuclear strategy since 1953 when Russia (then the Soviet Union) joined us as an atomic power is “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD). Essentially, this doctrine holds that if you launch your nuclear weapons to destroy me, I’ll launch mine to destroy you. Nobody wins. Everybody loses. This doctrine has prevented a third world war for almost 70 years and turned atomic bombs from weapons into a concept which largely kept the peace.

The reason MAD has been effective is because it is credible. Nobody really doubted that a barrage of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles would be met in kind. That’s why the US and the USSR never waged considered bilateral war. (The one exception was the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. But that was quickly deescalated). Instead of fighting each other, the superpowers waged proxy wars in the less developed world. They were ugly and deadly, but never existentially threatening.

The problem we have now, as the conflict in Ukraine unfolds, is that the underlying theory of MAD doesn’t work in these circumstances. Sure, if Russia tried to attack us with nuclear weapons, we would fully retaliate. I believe that. I’m fairly certain that Vladimir Putin believes that. But knowing that a nuclear exchange would end life as we know it for all of us raises some very troubling questions about how we handle the current predicament.

Imagine this scenario: The war in Ukraine has gone badly for the Russians thus far. It will likely continue to go badly or maybe get even worse. Perhaps Kyiv simply won’t fall, the cost in Russian lives continues to grow and popular discontent in Russia rises. Putin then decides that he is no longer willing to accept the increasing risk to his rule and drops a nuclear bomb on Kyiv.

At this point, what should Joe Biden do? What would you do if you were president?

Our options are quite limited. We, or NATO, could retaliate, but against whom? Russia dropped the bomb. There is no third country we could strike. The only target which makes logical or moral sense is Russia.

We could launch an all-out nuclear attack. But under the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction we helped create, we would know that would mean the certain death of many millions of American citizens. We could launch a single strike against one Russian city, but it seems very unlikely that Putin would accept that and let it end there.

The other option is that we could do nothing. Sure, we could impose some additional sanctions, etc. But we’ve already done much of what we can do in that regard. And such a response would seem puny considering the massive crime against humanity such an action by the Russians would represent. Anything short of a massive military retaliation would rightly be perceived as feckless. And what kind of precedent would it set if we allow an unprovoked nuclear assault to go unanswered? But, on the other hand, are we willing to risk our lives, the lives of our families and friends, and life as we know it to avenge Kyiv?

One could argue that Russia faces the same dilemma that we do. But here is where my original point becomes relevant. I think that Putin is far more willing to risk a life-ending nuclear confrontation than Joe Biden or Americans in general are. His behavior suggests he isn’t obsessively concerned with the lives of his fellow Russians. And while most autocrats are egomaniacs who can at least be counted on to be self-protective, I’m not sure I’d bet our planet’s future on Putin backing down, even if his own life were at risk.

We seem to be in an untenable position. Mutually assured destruction is simply not designed to prevent limited nuclear attacks on third countries. In fact, perversely, it actually makes such attacks more likely because it severely limits options for retaliation.

I obviously don’t know what we would do in the unlikely, but plausible scenario I’ve laid out. But we shouldn’t be making these decisions on the fly. Hopefully, we are debating these things at the highest levels now, so that we are prepared if the worst happens.

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BROUILLETTE: Wolf’s ‘Green’ Agenda is Fueling Putin’s War Machine

As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal attacks on Ukraine continue, Americans are waking up to the true cost of denying energy realities around the world.

Well, not all Americans.

Gov. Tom Wolf and his allies on the left have demonstrated they’re still fast asleep under the spell of radical environmentalism and so-called “green” energy.

Recently, in an effort to help the people of Ukraine by weakening Putin’s energy-funded military invasion, a group of Republican lawmakers sent Wolf a letter asking him “to ban the importation of Russian sourced energy and to end his job-killing, punitive crusade against the production and exportation of Pennsylvania natural gas and other abundant fossil fuels.”

But instead of applauding the effort to stymie Putin’s killing spree, Wolf attacked the lawmakers and tried to make excuses for his seven years of restricting Pennsylvania’s natural gas production. Dragging out well-worn talking points from leftwing activists, Wolf said he’s “sought to strike a balance between natural gas development and environmental protection.”

As Wolf “strikes a balance,” Putin strikes the innocent men, women, and children of Ukraine.

Here are the facts: Pennsylvania is the nation’s second-largest natural gas-producing state, behind Texas. But much of our potential remains untapped—potential that could dramatically reduce our country’s dependence on foreign gas.

For example, Pennsylvania has the ability to supply natural gas to power New England. But instead, the left’s policies (especially in New York) have stunted pipeline development and forced that region to import natural gas from Russia.

Likewise, Pennsylvania could be shipping more liquefied natural gas to Europe—where currently 40 percent of natural gas is supplied by Russia. But the lack of pipelines and infrastructure again obstructs our ability to supply clean Pennsylvania natural gas to the world. The Marcellus Shale is one of the largest gas-producing regions in the world. With more pipelines and fewer restrictions on development, we could ramp up shipping and help accelerate the European Union’s transition from Russian gas to US gas.

Yet, for years, Wolf has undermined efforts to achieve energy independence by seeking to penalize Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry. By doing so, he has exacerbated our nation’s reliance on energy from hostile nations.

Beginning with his first budget address in 2015, Wolf has targeted the natural gas industry, attempting to double- and even triple-tax it. His ill-fated yet repeated severance tax proposals have sent a message to the natural gas industry that their ingenuity, productivity, and potential are not welcome in Pennsylvania.

Added to that, Wolf’s years-long attempt to unilaterally join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) threatens to burden the industry with higher costs that would stunt, rather than unleash, our energy potential, destroying thousands of jobs in the process.

To top it all off, Wolf’s vote last year to ban fracking within the Delaware River Basin drew this prescient warning from Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Callahan: “It may be a good day for those who seek higher energy prices for American consumers and a deeper dependence on foreign nations to fuel our economy, but this vote defies common sense….”

This forewarned dependence on foreign energy is now on full display, with deadly consequences. While Pennsylvania has the potential to power the nation and free the world from dependence on Russian energy, Wolf’s policies are forcing Americans, and Europeans, to buy overpriced Russian energy which funds the bombs dropping on innocent Ukrainians.

In his response to lawmakers, Wolf had the opportunity to demonstrate leadership and a commitment to unleashing Pennsylvania’s energy opportunity. He chose to lob insults and demonstrate his allegiance to radical environmentalists willing to sacrifice innocent lives on the altar of a “green” energy agenda.

Instead of using an international crisis to try to score political points, Wolf should act to use Pennsylvania’s affordable, clean, and reliable natural resources to weaken Russian control over the worldwide natural gas market and rescue innocent civilians from the grip of Putin’s war.

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FLOWERS: To Turn Our Backs on Ukraine Is to Turn Our Backs on Ourselves

Tucker Carlson was on the news the other night, apologizing for being wrong about Putin. Well, he wasn’t exactly pulling a “full Catholic” (“My fault, my fault, my most grievous fault,”) It was more of a, “Well, okay, I got some of it wrong; but it’s because everyone else acted stupidly, and how was I to expect that everyone else was going to act so stupidly?”

In other words, Tucker took a look at the footage coming out of Ukraine, with smoldering buildings, screaming children, and fires near a nuclear reactor, and he decided that — just perhaps — being harder on Joe Biden than on the heartless architect of this evil assault was a bad idea.

Tucker is typical of many media types on the right who have decided that Ronald Reagan is an outdated symbol of conservative glory and that Republicans should become more like Charles Lindbergh:  Isolationism today, isolationism tomorrow, isolationism forever. I don’t remember hearing Ronnie saying, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall–but only if you want to, and take your time about it since we’re not in a rush.”

If I sound petulant and a bit bitter, it’s only because I am.  The attitudes and reactions of many on the right have astounded me from the day Putin decided to march across the border of a sovereign nation and seize it.

The other night, I’d had enough. I cracked my knuckles and began to tweet:

“I promised not to preach. I lied,” I confessed. “Watching scenes of the destruction in Ukraine and desperate families at train stations, I feel helpless and angry. My anger is at Putin, Russia, and anyone still preaching non-intervention.

“Fear is legitimate, including fear of nuclear incidents. Ukraine is the home of the ghost town Chernobyl, where ground still crackles and glows with the remnants of the 1986 apocalypse. But to be afraid is understandable. To make isolationism your religion is immoral.”

I went on.

“You do not have to be Jewish to remember the Holocaust. You do not need to be Armenian to remember the genocide. You do not have to be Kurdish to shudder at Saddam Hussein’s name. You do not need to be Bosnian to bow your head when you hear ‘Srebrenica.’ And you do not need to be an immigration lawyer (like me) to remember that almost a million Rwandans were killed in a few months.

“If you think that any of what is going on in Ukraine is not our business or is less important than domestic affairs, you are deluded. Full stop. Full, damn, stop.”

Those words cost me online “friends,” as I expected they would. Because in this craven new world, we are as divided by our politics as we are by rivers, mountains, and generations. We no longer look at things as Americans who stood athwart history telling dictatorial thugs to stop. We have lost our connection with the elders who survived Pearl Harbor and Normandy. And to those who say that, unlike today, America was attacked in 1941 and we were fighting for our survival, I know what’s at stake today: Our identity as the greatest country on earth, a haven for the oppressed and dispossessed.

Call me Jurassic, call me a throwback to naïve and innocent times, but I cannot believe this country and its people are willing to sit back and watch as a violent psychopath with an army bombs women and children back into the Stone Age. I can’t believe our only response to the slaughter of thousands in the heart of Europe will be sanctions and symbolism. Changing “Russian Dressing” to “Freedom Sauce” won’t save a single life.

Ukraine is used to being victimized by the West. The New York Times ignored the man-made famine that took place almost a century ago, which was Stalin’s strategy of genocide against a troublesome people.

Now, at least, attention is being paid. And I have to credit CNN for doing an exceptional job in bringing the horror into our homes. But there are still those who talk about “fake news,” as the embers are still bright near the nuclear reactor. And there are still those who will speak about “warmongers” and cleave onto their tribal relationships.

To me, when innocents are being killed, there are only two tribes: The heroes and the fools. And they are showing themselves more clearly, with each deadly day that passes.


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HUTTON: When Will Twitter Delete Putin’s Accounts?

U.S.-based Twitter (and a host of other social media platforms) deleted accounts months ago of former President Donald Trump simply because they did not like his politics. The site is owned by a commercial company and its owners exercised their right to censor speech.

Trump did not order the killing of innocent civilians or an invasion of Canada or Mexico. The leaders of Twitter just did not agree with his speech.

Twitter has not taken a similar approach toward Russia’s leader even as that nation, while aggressively attacking Ukraine, feeds a steady dose of propaganda about Ukraine on its various Twitter accounts.

The big tech company is apparently not offended by a tyrant who has started an aggressive war based simply on his megalomania.

As of March 2, and as civilians are being slaughtered by Putin’s forces, Twitter’s official page for Russian President Vladimir Putin is fully operational with 1.5 million followers.

One tweet is a seemingly inoffensive posting.

“Vladimir Putin discussed the special military operation to protect Donbass with Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett…”

There are also links (which I advise against trying to access) to readouts of phone calls to various world leaders and photos of Putin sitting very close to Russian politicians. He does not sit at the giant table as he does with foreign visitors and his own generals.

Of course, since the whole world knows what’s happening it certainly is offensive. Nobody really believes Putin is protecting anyone. But this one passes through Twitter’s censors unimpeded.

On the Russian embassy account in the U.S., there are propaganda messages that are demonstrably bogus and other retweets including one from the Chinese embassy in the U.S. blaming the U.S. most of the world’s wars. (Of course, they were careful to leave off World War II, the war in which the intervention of the U.S. saved both Russia and the Chinese).

Want to read about Russia’s statement recognizing the so-called “independence of Donetsk and Lugansk,” both of which happen to be in the sovereign nation of Ukraine? Just click on the official “Russia and NATO” page.  There’s plenty of more propaganda there for you to view as well. Still, not banned by Twitter.

If an international flavor is for you, click on the Russian embassy account in the UK. On this page you will be fed a dose of anti-Ukrainian falsehoods and even a tweet condemning a “media censorship (presumably from the west) on an unprecedented scale.” Yes, Russia is suddenly a pro-free speech country.

On the same page, you will learn from Russian foreign minister, Sergeĭ Viktorovich Lavrov, that “it is the policy of the Washington-led ‘collective west’ which is to blame for the fact that the Kiev (Russian spelling) regime has been at war with its own people since 2014.”

Never mind that 2014 was the year Russia last invaded Ukraine, installed puppets in the eastern part of Ukraine. and stole Crimea.

On the Russian Mission in Geneva page, you can read of how Russia wants you to know “neo-Nazism, nationalism, and hatred towards Russia (represented by a Russian flag emoji) was forced on the Ukrainian society and eventually led to the #DonbassTragedy.”

The Russian embassy in Australia asks that you kindly “communicate in a decent manner. In accordance with our moderation policy (the) embassy reserves the right to remove any derogatory or obscene content…” Presumably they could be offended.

Yet, the page contains graphic postings related to alleged “war crimes” by Ukraine and is replete with much of the same propaganda appearing on other Russian official Twitter accounts.

On Russia’s United Nations account, there is a mention of “10 years” of “aggression” by Ukraine, and denunciations of Ukraine’s “violation of fundamental rights of people in eastern Ukraine.”

One striking tweet denounces Ukrainian actions about keeping women and children from being safely evacuated.

“(Ukraine) Armed Forced (sic) do not let civilians out of #Mariupol, keeping them, including women and children, in one of local schools. They force back all those who try to leave the city via the established #humanitarian corridors.”

The question for the Twitter censors who find offenses everywhere is will a threshold be met when they are sufficiently offended and moved to eliminate these propaganda bulletin boards or at least label horribly false or misleading postings?

Twitter chose its method of handling those whose free speech they do not agree with by deleting them. When will Russia feel this pain?

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HUTTON: To Save Ukraine, Putin Must Be the Target

Russian President Vladimir Putin is savagely in the midst of a full-scale, unprovoked attack on the sovereign nation of Ukraine, and now is the time to consider how to make him pay a severe price for his crimes.

The focus is squarely on Putin. Now that we are no longer wasting words and time on timid, so-called deterrence we must ultimately seek regime change. He has to go.

Our actions now must so thoroughly complicate Putin’s and Russia’s existence that they cause Russian citizens to act. Despite his tight grip on power, the Russian people have access to information and they almost certainly are not buying his almost crazed rationale for the invasion. Some are already taking to the streets.

Many Russians have family relations and friends in Ukraine. They understand Ukraine represented no threat to Mother Russia. There is no great cause to support.  This is strictly a Putin affair.

Some Ukrainians, like former heavyweight world boxing champions Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko (Vitali is currently mayor of Kyiv) are from a Ukrainian father, who was a colonel in the Soviet Army, and a Russian mother. Both men and their fellow countryman and current heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, are in Ukraine to fight against the Russian army.  It is likely they are not exceptions — many will fight.

Economic actions have been taken and they are continuing to expand.

The U.S., European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Canada have acted with exceptional fortitude by expelling selected Russian banks from SWIFT, according to CNN. Whatever pain it causes the U.S. will be mitigated by a weaker, less aggressive Russia.

Removing Russia entirely from SWIFT would cripple Russian financial transactions worldwide. The country cannot afford the blow. Its economy ranks outside the top 10 by GDP and is dwarfed by that of the U.S.

The list of painful measures must expand quickly beyond removal from SWIFT. Additional measures could also include: ban Russian ships from international ports; send 90 percent of diplomats home from as many nations as President Joe Biden can influence; ban Russia from international sports (some of which is happening now); discontinue landing rights to Aeroflot; go after the property and bank accounts of Russian oligarchs; ban rail service from and to Russia; ban named individuals from international travel; issue sanctions on any nation that tries to get around the sanctions.

The U.S. can also refuse Russian oil. So can Western Europe.

All measures must have an adverse effect on Putin himself. He makes all the decisions. He is the one.

The Russian people will have to decide whether they want to send their sons to die in a country where the citizens are not real enemies. Russians likely already know that Ukraine has never posed a threat to their country and never will.

They also have to choose whether punishing economic hardships are worth the suffering. Russian citizens gain almost nothing in having a hostile slave state south of their border and may endure years of sabotage and guerilla activities that could become a festering wound.

Our actions supporting Ukraine must also continue as the war continues. We can provide massive amounts of ammunition and logistical resupply surreptitiously. Most immediately, we can provide medical support by allowing the evacuation of casualties to nearby NATO nations.

The international community’s actions must include all NATO nations.

Putin has evolved from a simple KGB thug into a full-fledged war criminal. This conflict will one day end, but Putin’s days as a pariah are forever. He needs to be indicted and brought before an international court.

His directives have resulted in the illegal killing of innocent civilians by engaging in an aggressive war—men were hanged for equivalent charges at Nuremberg.

Sanctions cannot simply end when Putin has fully consolidated his hold on power in Ukraine. They have to be biting and painful for enough time to be seen as punitive and ultimately change Russia’s behavior. There may be some residual deterrence for the next Russian despot who wants to relive the glory of the days of the Soviet empire.

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YAW: Are We Nuts? American Energy is Key to Undermining Putin’s War

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bloody and unhinged campaign to topple a democratic nation once subjugated by the former Soviet Union has resurrected the threat of global conflict from its deep, dark Cold War-era grave.

It’s easy to paint the invasion of Ukraine as the delusions of a narcissistic despot desperate to cement his legacy as the man who muscled Russia’s way back to the top of the world superpower list. In doing so, we ignore the uncomfortable truth: Putin spent years bolstering Russia’s economy with oil and gas exports, knowing full well the West’s race to renewables left them vulnerable and dependent.

As a natural consequence, any imposed sanctions meant to cripple Russia’s energy sector will reverberate across the globe, cutting countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) the deepest.

This is what I, and many others, mean when we say energy independence is a matter of national security. And this is why short-sighted climate policies – like forcing Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and cancelling natural gas infrastructure, the Keystone XL pipeline chief among them – are so very dangerous. People across the world, not just in Ukraine, will die from the leverage Russia holds over global energy exports.

How much control does Russia have, exactly? The EU is the largest importer of natural gas in the world and 53 percent of their supply came from Russia in 2020 alone. In the United States, about 11 percent of our crude oil imports came from Russia last year – a smaller, albeit significant chunk that will cause financial pain stateside as the war against Ukraine escalates.

Some analysts believe crude oil prices may reach $150 per barrel this summer, up from roughly $50 just two years ago when American energy policy prioritized independence.

President Trump, love him or hate him, cautioned western Europe about the risks of relying on Russian natural gas. Germany ignored those warnings and closed much of its nuclear and coal generation facilities in an effort to reduce carbon emissions. Unfortunately, Germany now finds itself in a very serious dilemma of failing to recognize the importance of natural gas in its decisions.

Germany isn’t alone in its shortsightedness. Democratic leaders in western nations, acting on behalf of wealthy green energy donors, fail to see the big picture time and time again. It doesn’t matter how many countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement if all of them also allow China to ramp up its emissions over the next decade.

Pollution knows no borders. Renewable energy accounts for less than one third of global energy supply and remains notoriously unreliable. That’s why, in addition to fueling the EU, Russia made a lucrative deal to supply China with 100 million tons of coal.

We can attack Putin’s assets and Russia’s banks all we want, but so long as he’s cornered a sector of the energy market, his imperialist ambitions will not subside.

But all is not lost. The United States can change course. We can ramp up energy production with the same urgency we experienced when manufacturers pivoted to make masks and ventilators at the onset of the pandemic. We can ease Biden-era policies meant to restrict oil and gas production and exports. We can greenlight Keystone and other pipelines. And we can unleash our plentiful gas supply right here in Pennsylvania to help with that mammoth effort.

Pennsylvania, according to the Energy Information Administration, remains number two in natural gas production nationwide and became the largest supplier of electricity in the United States in 2020. In Pennsylvania alone, more than half of households use natural gas to stay warm. Our 49 underground storage sites also remain key to meeting regional demand in winter.

That’s why Gov. Tom Wolf must abandon policies meant to hamstring the industry, like his devotion to RGGI or his alignment with New York on halting infrastructure that could supply New England with cleaner, cheaper Pennsylvania natural gas instead of – you guessed it – Russia’s inferior product.

But Wolf isn’t the only one standing in the way. Our country still bans liquified natural gas (LNG) cargo ships from delivering between domestic ports unless registered in the United States. Of the more than 400 existing LNG carriers, none fly the U.S. flag.

This law, known as the Jones Act, was enacted in 1920 and leaves us entirely dependent on foreign transports to deliver LNG when pipelines aren’t feasible. The same law prevented production facilities in the southern U.S. from delivering to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island in 2017.

Think of how much the world has changed in a century, let alone from just a year or two ago. Where is the logic in buying from a hostile nation instead of adopting policies that make it easier to use what we produce ourselves? Is there any recognition of the common good – or are we just nuts?

Russia has now weaponized its natural gas supply and soon it will squeeze ancillary industries like fertilizer manufacturing and ultimately, food production. If you control the food supply, you control the people. It’s a brutal tactic Russian dictators of decades past know all too well.

Our elected officials must set aside their allegiance to green energy lobbyists and turn up gas production so that we can crush Putin’s war machine without setting a single foot on foreign soil. As a nation that prides itself on its staunch defense of liberty, we must not undermine Ukraine’s fight for freedom by bankrolling their aggressor. And natural gas is the most valuable commodity Russia has – for now.

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Delaware Valley Residents Horrified, Heartbroken Over Ukraine

Delaware Valley residents with ties to Ukraine are watching in horror as the Russian army rolls toward Kyiv.

Many came to a rally at City Hall in Philadelphia Friday to show their support for the beleaguered country.

At Manor College in Abington, founded 75 years ago by the Ukrainian Sisters of St. Basil the Great, students and staff held a Zoom service Friday to pray for Ukraine. Signs with the message “Pray for Peace in Ukraine” abound on campus.  Many students, alumni, and staff at the small college have relatives in Ukraine.

Nicholas Rudnytzky, the college’s dean of academic services, grew up in Philadelphia. His parents immigrated from Ukraine after World War II. He still has family in Lviv in the western part of Ukraine, which is “very far from the front lines.”

Nicolas Rudnytzky

“They’re fine,” he said about his relatives. “They’re mad. They’re angry. Like most of the country, they’re defiant.”

Asked if they intend to fight, Rudnytzky said they do but added, “the Russian war machine is ranked third in the world.”

While it is shocking that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s army is invading Ukraine, in some ways, it is not, he said.

For one thing, the world did very little when Putin took Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, he said. And Russia and the Soviet Union have a centuries-long history of oppressing the Ukrainians.

“A good contingent of the Ukrainian community was expecting this,” said Rudnytzky. “Moscow had repeatedly denied our existence. The czarist government of the past made our language illegal. In 1946, the Russian Orthodox Church liquidated the Ukrainian Catholic Church.” Clergy were exiled, leaders killed or sent to Siberia. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin created a deliberate famine in Ukraine in the 1930s that killed millions.

“They committed genocide against our people,” said Rudnytzky. “This is horrifying that in the 21st century, in Europe, such a thing could happen.”

He questioned the efficacy of the United Nations and NATO. If it were somewhere else and did not involve Russia, “we’d have U.N. peacekeeping troops.”

In the 1990s, the U.S., Great Britain, and Russia signed an agreement with Ukraine, saying they would protect it if it gave up its nuclear weapons, he noted.

“We promised we’d protect them. But when Russia took Crimea, everyone looked the other way.

“Now there is a huge contingent wondering whether China will take a lesson from Russia,” he said. “This is an attack on a democracy in Europe.”

Eugene Luciw

Eugene Luciw is also the son of Ukrainian immigrants. He is the president of the Philadelphia branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and director of external relations for the Ukrainian Sports Center and Ukrainian National Soccer Club in Horsham.

He agreed Putin was emboldened by the lackluster response to his theft of the Crimea.

“Mr. Putin takes to weakness like a shark takes to blood in the water,” Luciw said.

He has relatives and friends in Ukraine.

“Many of them are in bunkers, in subways,” he said. “My heart is there with them. In the modern world, people I had visiting in the United States are in bomb shelters and subways trying to stay alive.”

The attack is personal for Luciw.

Leonard Mazur

“I feel violated,” he said. And the world order is now changed where “a heavily militarized imperial power can simply take another country over.”

Leonard Mazur, a Manor College trustee and chairman of the college’s Ukrainian Community Committee, said his parents also fled Ukraine after World War II, and his mother had been in a German forced labor camp during the war.

“What’s happening here is a tragedy,” said Mazur, who is appalled that “the world is standing by, letting this happen. I don’t know how people, how governments that have any degree of morality can do that. It’s awful.”

Putin is taking over a country “under false pretenses,” he said. He urged people to talk to their representatives, senators, and the White House to put still stronger sanctions in place and that the U.S. arms Ukraine so its citizens can fight back.

“How do you just stand by and watch people get slaughtered?” he asked.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Putin and other top Russian officials on Friday.

A sign at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Philadelphia.

And on the prayer front, Philadelphia Archbishop Most Reverend Nelson J. Pérez w celebrated a Mass for the intention of peace in Ukraine, the Ukrainian People, and the Ukrainian community in Philadelphia this Sunday at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Philadelphia was packed Sunday morning as people offered prayers for the war to end.

Tatayna Lylyk, a congregant, said, there are “a lot of reasons” for the war but the main one is Putin and “rich people who want power.”

Lylyk came to Philadelphia in 2002 from Kyiv when she was 36 but most of her family and many friends remain in Ukraine.  she is worried about them and fears for the future.

“It is prohibited to come out from “your” home,” she said. “There are saboteurs on the streets which want to help Putin  in this war. (But) people stay for their homeland.”

“Why (does Putin) need our Ukraine? I think he’s crazy. I think he’s scared in some way. He is wrong in his mind,” she said.



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BARR: It’s Time U.S. Energy Policy Stops Empowering Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has plunged Europe into crisis with his invasion of Ukraine. His stated goals are to destabilize the country to bring the nation back under Russia’s control. In response, it’s time we hit Putin where he knows it will hurt – through the energy sector. Unfortunately, there’s been a raft of bad policy decisions at the state and federal levels that need to be reversed to make this happen.

The United States and the European Union are discussing economic sanctions against Russia for its violations of international order. But at the same time, due to a lack of pipeline infrastructure and regulatory pressure to reduce domestic production from the Biden administration, the U.S. has dramatically increased the volume of imported Russian oil. Federal energy regulators note that in 2021, imports of Russian oil doubled year-over-yearto the highest level in a decade. Russia is now, unfathomably, the second-highest exporter of oil to the United States. Oil is by far Russia’s biggest and most profitable export – and it’s time to shut that off. In the meantime, America and its neighbors in Canada and Mexico have abundant supplies of oil to replace this resource. But we need leadership in Washington.

Instead, due to litigation from environmental groups, exploration of new resources on federal lands has stalled. Just days ago, the Biden administration announced it was pausing any new drilling on federal lands. At the same time, federal officials have revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have brought in much-needed energy from our biggest trading partner, Canada. The Biden administration has also waffled on whether or not to oppose Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s attempts to vacate another critical pipeline, Line 5, which brings in oil that supplies the Great Lakes region, including to the Pittsburgh Airport.

Shutting down Russian imports in exchange for North American energy wouldn’t just hurt Russia – it would be a net win for the environment. Russian energy production is notoriously lax on environmental standards, with Biden’s Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm going so far to say their production is “the dirtiest on earth,” with fugitive emission rates orders of magnitude above US standards. Despite this, Russia has been granted permission under the Paris climate accords to increase its greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 34% by the end of the decade. In contrast, America and Canada have among the most stringent production standards globally – not to mention that the United States has led the developed world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the past two decades.

Pennsylvania has helped the United States achieve those reductions through its competitive markets and leadership production in shale gas. Our state is now the number two producer of natural gas and the leader in energy exports to other states. Unfortunately, neighboring states like New York and New Jersey have blocked new pipeline construction, to the applause of environmental groups. The result? Power prices and emissions have skyrocketed, and New England has infamously imported Russian gas into its terminal near Boston to keep the lights on in the winter. New England has also had to turn to fuel oil to prevent blackouts, resulting in a 44% increase in greenhouse gas emissions this past winter.

There are economic consequences to shutting down pipelines. Look no further than Germany announcing this week it is suspending the operating permit for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would have imported Russian gas into Europe, in response to Putin’s aggression. As European foreign policy analyst Bruno Macaes once said, pipelines are the continuation of war by other means. Yet Pennsylvania has been hamstrung in its ability to deliver reliable energy to its neighbors and abroad. We have enough natural gas to grow markets here (and reduce emissions) while also exporting more clean-burning fuel to allies in Europe, India and Asia. But the Biden administration has not greenlit any new LNG export or pipeline infrastructure. Domestic LNG cargoes are also forbidden, by the perverse consequences of the protectionist Jones Act, from being delivered to other domestic ports – meaning we can export LNG from Houston and the Gulf for $4.50 per million cubic feet but New England has to import it from much more emissions-intensive locales – like Russia – for seven times more.

Let there be no doubt – private industry in the United States is deploying billions of dollars into low- and zero-carbon energy technologies every year as they execute sustainability plans. In the meantime, there is a great and growing international demand for fossil fuels. Putin knows responsibly produced North American energy reduce revenues for his war machine. That’s why he said in 2013 that shale is a danger and must be stopped, and why NATO Secretary General Rasmussen announced in 2014the defense consortium had intelligence Putin was funding anti-fossil fuel environmental groups (which Hillary Clinton herself confirmed in the run-up to the 2016 election).

Putin’s aggression cannot be left unchecked. To help keep the peace and to build a more sustainable global future, America’s prolific energy resources must be leveraged to the maximum. We can no longer afford state and federal energy policy that accommodates and enriches Russia.

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Putin Should Feel the Wrath of the International Community — Now

Russian President Vladimir Putin should suffer sanctions regardless of whether he pulls back from attacking in Ukraine. He has already violated his neighbor and an attack will be additive. His tyrannical bullying has to be addressed now — and later.

The Russian dictator has pushed Ukraine to the brink of annihilation. He caused NATO to expend resources needlessly. He has threatened the international economic system with calamitous failure. He essentially has wrested control of Belarus.

Yet now, international leaders are intent on affecting Putin’s decision to attack as though that in and of itself is sufficient. We have to acknowledge Putin’s wrongdoing and decide to punish him now for what he has already done, and more if he continues.

He has proven he is a malignant actor. Even without a full-scale invasion, Ukrainian troops died during what was likely a provocation in hopes Ukraine will attack and thus give license for Russia to launch a larger incursion.

The attack was labeled as, “shelling by pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine.” Read that as meaning it was directed by Russia.

Russian troops, now totaling an estimated 150,000 ground forces, , in addition to innumerable aircraft at the ready and ships available in the Black Sea, are poised in position for attack. That’s an act of war even if he moves no farther into Ukraine.

Belarus allowed Russia access to its territory to terrorize Ukraine. Russia was ostensibly in Belarus for training, but now that the scheduled training period has ended, they have decided to remain in place.

Even the dopes in Belarus did not likely understand that Russian troops would occupy their land on a permanent basis. Some will suggest that by cozying up to Putin Belarus had it coming but Putin’s annexation of Belarus is not good for anyone and we must demand the evacuation of Russian forces.

Putin must pay.

Make the of economic sanctions being considered public now.

Several items on the list should be painful and immediate.

The rest could come after the invasion.

The claim by Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby that if sanctions were executed now Russia would have no reason to pull back can be dismissed out of hand. (It is hard to believe that the Pentagon and White House really discussed this idea and thought it was valid).

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants the international community to “develop an effective package of preventive sanctions to deter aggression.” His logic is unassailable.

“I agree with President Zelensky, sanctions are no good after the shooting starts,” said former Veterans Affairs Secretary and former Undersecretary of Defense Robert Wilkie in an email. “If Biden was serious, he would have slapped sanctions on in March telling Putin they come off when you pull your troops back.”

One sanction that will gain the attention of other would-be tyrants is to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline permanently. Dismantle it. The West should state that no such project can take place for a minimum of 20 years. Let Putin and the rest of the world know this is the price for terror. (Then ask Beijing if the Chinese Communist Party is paying attention). Should Biden decide to reverse his energy policy that limits U.S. production of energy, he could almost immediately soften the blow for Europe by increasing U.S. exports of energy beyond current levels.

The West must make demands. Putin has to clearly understand there is no upside in this matter for him or his regime. He has already made a gross error in judgment and an invasion would simply exacerbate what he has done.

On February 20, the Biden administration announced it agreed in “principle” to meet with Putin to discuss “security and strategic stability in Europe.” Such discussions hopefully will not devolve into granting Putin concessions of any kind. It remains to be seen how such talks–if they occur–will cause Russia to pull back from Ukraine’s border.

It also remains to be seen what role Ukraine plays in any meeting. It is, after all, Ukraine that would be discussed. Any meetings without an active Ukrainian involvement portray to Russia that the U.S. sees Ukraine as an inferior and that this matter is for the major players.

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DelVal Politicians React to Putin’s Ukraine Move

“I consider it necessary to take a long-overdue decision: To immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.” With that statement on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin shifted the balance of power in eastern Europe by re-drawing the map of Ukraine through brute force. As of late Monday night, he had reportedly ordered Russian military forces into these regions of eastern Ukraine.

Putin’s actions drew mixed messages from the Biden White House, with some talk that Russia’s move may not spark a massive backlash the way a traditional invasion would. Meanwhile, some Delaware Valley political figures did respond to Putin’s provocative actions.

“The grave predictions of our intelligence community are coming to fruition,” tweeted Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.). “Putin is violating Ukrainian sovereignty. Together, our nation, NATO Allies, and EU partners will hold him accountable.”

And while Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) didn’t release any reactions on Monday. However, a week earlier the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, Environment, and Cyber joined other House GOP leaders to announce the  Never Yielding Europe’s Territory (NYET) Act.

“As we have done before with other rogue powers, it is time for the United States to send a clear message: if Russia insists on threatening the sovereignty of another state and jeopardizing global security, there will be severe economic consequences and sweeping sanctions,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “Congress must act now to ensure that the United States continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine by providing our Ukrainian partners with the aid and resources they need to uphold their territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick is both a successful businessman and a veteran.

“Joe Biden’s weakness and incompetence have set the world ablaze, from Kabul and Kyiv to our southern border,” the Army veteran of the first Gulf War said. “We must return to strong America First policies and leadership that made us more respected abroad and more secure at home. I served in the military because I love our country. I’m running for the U.S. Senate to serve again.”

One of his GOP primary competitors made her point during Monday night’s debate. “Biden has no plans whatsoever,” said Kathy Barnette from Huntingdon Valley. “He’s playing whack-a-mole, whoever pops their head up, he ends up hitting it at the moment. That is not how you lead the greatest nation that’s ever existed in the world, and yet that is where we find ourselves right now. We have two different strategies that need to be employed. We’re talking about Russia potentially entering into Ukraine and being given the green light for them to enter in and do a little bit of damage. And then we have China with Taiwan. China is about to do a Hong Kong on Taiwan.”

And Republican candidate for the Fifth Congressional District, Former Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer (EOD) David Galluch, released this statement:

“Today, Vladimir Putin gave a speech that exacerbated the Ukraine crisis, indicating Russia’s pending recognition of two separatist eastern Ukrainian regions. This is a naked power grab and revision of European borders – and the United States appears powerless to act.

America has been on the retreat for more than a year. Given that Ukraine has already suffered cyberattacks and significant economic damage at the hands of Russia, the United States should have already implemented severe sanctions against Putin and the Russian regime.

The unfortunate truth is Vladimir Putin was allowed to control events and the narrative from the very beginning. Sanctioning Russia and signaling our resolve to deny Putin a free hand is more important now than ever. With a Russian military buildup only miles from the Ukrainian border, the time for action has already passed. However, it is not too late to take immediate and urgent
steps in an effort to de-escalate this situation.”

And Christian Nascimento, a Republican running for the Fourth District Congressional seat said, “Vladimir Putin recognizing the independence of breakaway countries is political theater and a transparent pretext to justifying the invasion of the Ukraine.

“Putin intends to upend the post-cold war global order and attempt to bring us back to the days of the USSR. Putin only understands strength, so the US must lead a global response, which should include arms and support to Ukraine, as well as economic sanctions on Russia while they continue to destabilize the region and beyond.”

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