When Rep. Victoria Spartz was elected to the House in 2020, she became the first Ukrainian-born member of Congress.
Little did she know that after just one year on the job, that distinction would take on even greater significance as Russia brutally invades her home country and the United States debates what to do about it.
As a freshman, the Indiana Republican is using her microphone in Congress to make passionate pleas for a stronger US response to the rapidly escalating crisis in Ukraine, and hoping her personal connection to the conflict will make the message resonate more strongly. All the while, Spartz is dealing with the emotional toll of watching the bloody invasion unfold, knowing she still has friends and family — including her grandmother —who are in Ukraine.
Spartz is calling for stiffer sanctions, immediate aid and more military resources, saying the Ukrainian people want more weapons — not troops — because they want to fight the Russians themselves. She also is advocating for refugees and drawing attention to the horrors of the humanitarian crisis that is quickly unfolding.
"I think we need to understand the situation in Ukraine. It's not a war. It's a genocide of the Ukrainian people by a crazy man, who cannot get over that Ukrainian people do not want to be with Soviet Union," Spartz told CNN, choking back tears as she donned a yellow dress and blue blazer in honor of the Ukrainian flag.
"This is a slaughter," she said. "It's a murder of the Ukrainian people. ... And the free world is standing and watching. How many he's going to kill? Well, I'll tell you: He's going to kill all of them, and as many as he can if we don't do something about it."