The topic of the war in Ukraine took center stage at Friday morning’s PACE Breakfast as Sen. Ben Cardin and other featured speakers spoke in support of the Ukrainian people.
“Mr. Putin has done something we have not been able to do,” said Cardin. “He has unified us. We are together in standing up for Ukraine.”
The annual PACE (Positive Attitudes Change Everything) event was held at The Westin Hotel in Annapolis with several of Maryland’s top political figures in attendance. In addition to Cardin, featured speakers included Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Comptroller Peter Franchot, House Speaker Adrienne Jones, and Senate President Bill Ferguson.
PACE is an opportunity for elected officials and government administrators in Allegany and Garrett counties to promote projects that are in need of state funding.
With war raging in Ukraine following an invasion by Russia, each speaker took time to address the crisis.
“Our thoughts and prayers and wishes are with Ukraine,” added Cardin. “What courageous people, standing up to defend their country and their love of freedom. Pres. Zelenskyy (of Ukraine), what courage he has shown. He is sacrificing his own safety in order to defend his country. We stand with the people of Ukraine.”
The comment was met with applause by the full-capacity crowd attending the breakfast.
“Not only our traditional allies, but working with the global community, we make it clear to Mr. Putin, he is not going to win,” said Cardin.
“We are inspired by the people of Ukraine,” said Van Hollen. “We are working to make sure Putin and Russia feel the economic pain. We can not allow anyone to invade a sovereign country. At the end of the day, the people of Ukraine will not allow to Putin to dominate and occupy their country.”
“We are facing something in Ukraine which is an unbelievable travesty … that women and children could be killed by a military,” said Franchot. “I can’t believe the Russian military is claiming great victory by shooting and killing civilians and destroying cities. It’s bothering a lot of our constituents across the state, liberal and conservative … Republican and Democrat.
“Until they stop, until they pull back, until they are accountable to the international community, we need to keep the pressure on him. Right now Putin is a pariah internationally. He has overreached and committed too many crimes.”
Franchot said he is working to increase the financial pressure.
“I have been meeting with the Department of Justice because we are going to track down, not just the Russian oligarchs, we are going to track down all of the money the Russian Federation has invested in the state of Maryland. That is all of the law firms, the consultants, and real estate. We are going to hit them where it hurts. We will not let this go unanswered.”
The elected officials also paid tribute to State Sen. George Edwards who is retiring after nearly 40 years of public service. Edwards will officially retire in January when a newly elected senator will be sworn in.
“Sen. Edwards, what an honor. Let me salute you for your dedication to public service,” said Van Hollen.
Ferguson said, “We will me you but we are so fortunate to have your service for the time that we did.” Ferguson presented Edwards with a framed water color painting of the Maryland State House.