Former VP Mike Pence visits UT Austin, speaks on one-year anniversary of Russian invasion of Ukraine

Ali Juell, Senior News Reporter

Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the UT Tower on Feb. 24, addressing the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and looking back at U.S. involvement in the conflict. 

The anniversary comes as the U.S. sustains its support of Ukraine’s defense while Russia and Ukraine continue to struggle within the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

Pence said he spoke with Ukrainian refugees in a Polish refugee center last year, seeing first-hand their anger and fear after fleeing from their home country.

“I remember looking in the face of a little girl clinging to a smudged and tattered toy she carried all along the journey from home,” Pence said. “It was a small glimpse into the violence being perpetrated against the people of Ukraine.”

Pence said the U.S. must fight to maintain sovereignty in Ukraine in order to prevent conflict in our own country.

“If we falter in our commitment to providing the support to the people of Ukraine to defend their freedom, our sons and daughters may soon be called upon to defend ours,” Pence said. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also said in his own Feb. 24 address that Ukraine has shown the world its strength by fighting off Russian efforts to overpower the country and U.S. contributions in defense resources and troops have been helpful to their efforts.

As over 40 million Ukrainian citizens continue suffering due to the conflict, Pence said he hopes U.S. President Joe Biden will increase military and humanitarian resources provided to Ukraine.

“Time is of the essence, we must ensure that the people of Ukraine have access to food and water and medicine to survive and fight to the end,” Pence said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently announced a new $10 billion aid package to support the Ukrainian government and provide energy assistance to its citizens.

“These funds are crucial to Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia and ensures the Ukrainian government can continue to meet the critical needs of its citizens, including healthcare, education, and emergency services,” Blinken said in a statement.

In his closing remarks, Pence said he hoped Americans pray for not only Ukraine but also the American troops involved in the conflict.

“The light does shine through darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it,” Pence said.