Associate Mosaic Editor
As Ukrainians are experiencing life-threatening bomb strikes and taking up arms to defend their sovereignty, Delaware politicians on both sides of the aisle are offering their opinions on the situation.
Lauren Witzke, a Republican U.S. senatorial candidate in Delaware and a self-proclaimed “American Christian nationalist,” has been active on social media with some of her comments made at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference in February about the war Russia is waging on Ukraine.
Witzke, whose Twitter account has been suspended for hateful conduct, voiced her appreciation for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
“Russia is a Christian nationalist nation,” Witzke said at the conference. “They’re actually Russian Orthodox. I identify more with Putin’s Christian values than I do with Joe Biden.”
Many Twitter users have criticized Witzke’s remarks made in favor of Russia and Putin.
User @blakandblack voiced their opinions on Witzke’s aforementioned comments from the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference.
“WTAF … Lauren Witzke, the Delaware GOP’s candidate for Senate in 2020 says that she identifies more with Putin’s ‘Christian’ Russia than she does with President Biden!,” @blakandblack tweeted. “Is it any wonder that Putin feels emboldened enough to openly invade the #Ukraine!?! #RussiaUkraineConflict”
The head of the Catholic Church and a figurehead for many Christians, Pope Francis has spoken out in support of Ukraine. During a Mass in Rome, Francis voiced his disdain for the war that Putin unleashed.
“In the name of God I ask you: stop this massacre!” Francis said prior to leading the crowd in silent prayer for the war’s end.
Families are being split apart to escape oppression by Russian troops and countless faith organizations worldwide have been holding vigils and praying for Ukraine.
Witzke’s comments made at the Conservative Political Action Conference were not the only remarks she has made on the topic. She has also shared pro-Russia memes to her personal Facebook page.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), also hailing from Delaware, finds himself opposing Witzke. Coons attended the Munich Security Conference in Germany last month, where preventing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a big topic of discussion.
In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), Coons discussed how the conference went and how he thinks the situation was handled thus far.
“At this point, President Biden has done exactly the right thing in pulling together the United States, our NATO allies and, frankly, the entire West in sending a forceful and clear signal to Putin that he faces a choice,” Coons said. “Either de-escalate and step back from a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and negotiate for some things, some better security guarantees in terms of arms control, transparency, some new arrangement with regards to Russian concerns about security. Or face devastating sanctions.”
Coons and Witzke have taken vastly different approaches to this tragedy. One is taking action to help Ukrainians while the other is speaking in favor of a president who is waging war on a much smaller nation.
University students and Delawareans alike have been voicing their thoughts on this situation, as well. Protests and rallies have taken place on the university’s campus and in the surrounding communities in support of Ukraine.
The university community has banded together in a multitude of ways to educate students, stand with Ukraine and facilitate discussion about these events.
There was a student-organized rally that took place on the Green on Feb. 28. Students, faculty and family members came together four days after Russia invaded Ukraine to emphasize their disdain for Russia’s maneuvers and their backing of Ukrainians during this difficult situation.
Students donned posters adorned with yellow and blue carrying messages in both Ukrainian and English denouncing Putin’s actions and calling for help for Ukraine.
President Dennis Assanis, his wife, Eleni and approximately 50 other members of the university community showed their support at the rally.
On that same day, the university hosted a panel entitled, “Mauled by the Bear: Understanding the War in Ukraine,” to help educate the community on the complexities of Russia’s invasion and what this war may look like.
The academics on the panel, who represented the political science, history and language departments at the university, detailed their joint unfavorable predictions of what is to come from this strife.
These Delawarean efforts to stand behind Ukraine extend beyond the university’s campus. On March 13, there was a candlelight vigil organized by the Central Delaware Interfaith Alliance that was held in front of the Wesley United Methodist Church Educational Building in Dover to honor those who have lost their lives thus far as a result of the war on Ukraine.
Many speeches were made expressing appreciation for the representation of the many different religions and beliefs supporting Ukraine at the event. The vigil ended with a moment of silence.
Although Witzke may stand with Russia, many university students and Delawareans, Coons included, are supporting Ukraine during these historic times.