Burlington, VT — Shortly before his flight to Washington, D.C. for a Congressional Intelligence Conference, Congressman Peter Welch discussed the crisis in Ukraine, calling it, “extraordinarily harmful to peace and stability in the world.”

Welch says the nation’s response will include humanitarian and military aid as well as strengthened sanctions.

“It is appalling that Putin on Russia made a decision to do this willfully, intentionally, maliciously, and deliberately,” said Welch.

He says the country’s response remains strong with sanctions even stronger compared to a week ago. He says these are measures that aim to hinder Russia’s engagement in the international economy, stop Putin, and freeze oligarchs’ who have billions of dollars in assets outside of Russia.

“It’s estimated already that about 500,000 Ukrainians have fled the country,” Welch added. To help Ukrainians, the U.S. plans to provide humanitarian aid and defensive weapons as part of a 3.5 billion dollar military aid package.

Masha Makutonina, a student from Middlebury College, is from Odessa, Ukraine. Throughout the invasion, she has stayed in touch with her parents.

“What absolutely horrified me this morning is just seeing the person who I love smiling at me and absolute horror inside their eyes trying to suppress it.” She says her father was visiting another city when the attack began. Due to the lockdowns, her father has been away from her mother, stuck in Mykolaiv.

Mariia Dzholos is another student from Middlebury College with ties to Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv.

“Russia is attacking apartments, houses, hospitals, kindergartens, buses, and public infrastructure,” said Dzholos.

When asked how Vermont can stand in solidarity with Ukrainians, Welch says he supports the decision to remove Russian-made products from shelves.

Days after New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed an executive order to ban Russian alcohol, Governor Phil Scott followed suit Monday afternoon.

He said in a statement, “I directed the Commissioner of Liquor and Lottery to remove Russian-owned products from state agency store shelves and cease purchasing new stock from Russian-owned distilleries until further notice.”

Burlington businesses have started taking action including Three Needs Bar and The OP by removing Stoli and Smirnoff. Some businesses in Vermont’s capital city are hanging up Ukrainian flags and allowing free printing for pro-Ukrainian signs.

“This is unprecedented action. How it’s going to turn out, we don’t know, but what we do know is that with the strength of unity that has been on display here, where we’re acting together, those sanction and delivery of military aid have the power to be significantly effective in helping Ukraine do the impossible in their ongoing resistance in this,” said Welch.