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Stateside Podcast: Ukraine conflict spurs bipartisan response

A group of people in coats hold blue and yellow signs that express messages of support for Ukraine
Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio
Ukrainian Americans and others gathered in Warren last week to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

While American lawmakers may fight over voting rights and election security here at home, they seem united on one point: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a threat to democracy. Members of both major parties in Congress have said they are ready to do more to assist Ukraine.

Stateside caught up with U.S. Representatives Bill Huizenga (R-MI 2) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI 12) about their perspectives on the U.S. response.

Dingell said she supports the Biden administration’s moves to push strong global sanctions for Russia. But, she added, there is a clear line between coming down tough on Putin and advocating for military intervention.

“I want to be clear that the president has said that there is no military solution to this conflict and has said we will not be deploying U.S. troops to Ukraine,” she said. “...If the situation escalates, the president must seek Congressional authorization pursuant to the War Powers Resolution before any U.S. troops are deployed.”

Dingell said she thinks that Putin underestimated the response of the Ukrainian people, but noted that the stakes of the conflict are incredibly high when dealing with a country with nuclear capabilities.

“I'm not sure that we have rational people in all levels where this is all happening,” Dingell said. “Quite frankly, I am worried. I don't know where this is going to go.”

Like Dingell, U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga is not calling for American military intervention in Ukraine. But he said the country does need to be thinking through its options should Russia expand its incursion into the territory of other European countries.

“What happens in the future when there is, whether it's an intentional or unintentional incursion into Polish airspace, let's say? Or what about Moldova, which is not part of NATO, but is not Ukraine either? What happens with something in international waters, in the Black Sea? We better be thinking through that.”

Huizenga said that he “wished we had a stronger, more robust response” in 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia, and in 2014 when Russia invaded Crimea.

“I think that unfortunately had set some expectations in the Kremlin about what our responses would be to this incursion and this invasion."

Huizenga noted that he is encouraged to see other NATO members–particularly Germany–stepping up their defense operations in the wake of the invasion in Ukraine, and said that he hopes the U.S. will maintain a comparatively smaller role in European security moving forward.

“I'm glad to see that Germany instantly jumped ahead and finally was willing to take responsibility for their treaty obligation,” he said. “The U.S. is spending far more than two percent [GDP spending commitment]. We had been providing the bulk of the security for Europe, and it really needed to be the Europeans stepping up and they finally are doing that.”

In addition to discussing the U.S. response to Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, Dingell and Huizenga also discussed their bids for re-election. Both will be running in newly redrawn congressional districts. Listen above for the full conversation.

Looking for more conversations from Stateside? Right this way.

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Music byBlue Dot Sessions.

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April Van Buren is a producer for <i>Stateside</i>. She produces interviews for air as well as web and social media content for the show.
Claire Murashima is a production assistant for Stateside.
Elizabeth Harlow is an Assistant Producer for Stateside.