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Congressman Gallego addresses crisis in Ukraine

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 23:14:18-05

PHOENIX — More than 8,000 U.S. troops are on heightened alert and could be deployed to Europe if they're requested by NATO.

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D- AZ) told ABC15 he supports the show of force amid the Ukraine-Russia tensions.

"And we need to continue to show our unified response to this Russian aggression," said Gallego.

As ABC15 previously reported, Russia has stationed about 100,000 troops near the Ukraine border.

It remains unclear if Russia will invade. but Gallego, a Marine Corps veteran, believes the U.S. will end up sending the troops to Europe.

"It doesn't mean we provide troops to Ukraine," he said.

"I think we have to reinforce our allies especially our NATO allies on the eastern front but we need to stand as a united front and say you can't invade a sovereign democratic nation just because you want to," Gallego added.

In Phoenix, Ukrainians are paying close attention to what's happening in their home country.

"My opinion is there will be more death before liberty in this situation," said Victor Szwez, the board president of St. Mayr's Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

"So we just pray and hope that Russia pulls back, that young men, Ukrainian citizens, and even Russia soldiers don't have to die in this conflict," he added.

Board member Christine Boyka shared that same sentiment.

"The exercises they're doing right on the Ukrainian border are terrifying for us to think of what could happen. We're hoping it won't but they're there," she said.

Meanwhile, Gallego sits on the House Armed Services Committee and told ABC15 he can see the U.S. sending the troops to other countries in the region.

"I think we send troops to our NATO partners that are on the border of Ukraine -- Romania, Bulgaria -- potentially other countries that feel they're going to be threatened," he said.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said they're waiting to see what Russian President Vladimir Putin does before moving troops.

"To be completely honest with you, it's a little bit like reading tea leaves," said Biden.

"Ordinarily, before a different leader, the fact that he continues to build forces along Ukraine's border from Belarus all the way around. And you'd say well, that means that he is looking like he's trying to do something. But then you look at what his past behavior is and what everyone is saying in his team, as well as everyone else, as to what is likely to happen, it all comes down to his - his decision," he added.

Biden also said he had no intentions of sending U.S. troops into Ukraine.

However, the U.S. is sending over ammunition, weapons, and equipment to help the country defend itself against Russia if they choose to invade.