What would normally be a largely symbolic city resolution ended in heated debate Monday night.
Despite Kenosha City Council overwhelmingly passing a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an alderman has come to Russia’s defense.
Aldus. Jan Michalski proposed the resolution condemning Russia’s “violation of Ukrainian sovereignty” through “massive invasion” and Russia’s targeting of Ukrainian civilians with military weapons.
“It’s basically a well-known cliché that for evil to thrive, good people do nothing,” Michalski said. “I realize there is not much this council can do about it, but declaring our condemnation of this attack and at the same time our support for the people of Ukraine, I think, is the bare minimum that we can do.”
Michalski said the Ukrainian people have fought for hundreds of years to maintain a “separate identity” from Russia and “to be free”.
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“They approached all of this with resolve, determination and bravery,” he said. “I encourage everyone to give whatever help they can to the various aid agencies that could help this area.”
The alderman objected
Aldus. Dave Paff was the only board member to vote against the resolution.
Paff noted that there has been a “slow expansion from west to east” of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
“Ukraine should be a buffer zone because Russia doesn’t want NATO on its border,” Paff said, adding that Russia has “put up a defense” and has “the right to protect itself.” .
“NATO expanded and they did for 30 years,” Paff said. “That’s how I see it,” he said, after being briefly interrupted by another alderman during his speech.
Paff said he was “American through and through, 100 percent, served in the US military, patriot, and that’s where I live, that’s what I love. The American flag. Red, white and blue.
“In this global situation, which I think is devastating – and I hate war and wish there was peace everywhere – (I) 100% support the people. I think governments are the problem,” said Paff. “I just wanted to get my thoughts on this out there.”
No legal agreement prohibits NATO from expanding, according to to the organization’s website. Ukraine is not a member of NATO and several European countries have even opposed the inclusion of the former Soviet republic.
Aldus. Keith Rosenberg gave a moving speech condemning the Russian invasion after Paff’s speech.
“As someone who also served in the military during the Cold War on a submarine in the middle of the Atlantic ready to launch my missiles at Russia, Putin is Russia. He is bad. So I condemn this,” Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg said that “invading a country that is peaceful, not part of NATO” is a mistake.
“Killing innocent children, bombing schools is all over the news, so you can’t just sit here and defend Russia,” he said. “Putin is evil and I condemn this 110%.”
Lawmakers sent copies
Almost all aldermen have requested to be added to a resolution sponsor.
The City Clerk will send a copy of the resolution to U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, and U.S. Representative Bryan Steil, the area’s elected officials in the U.S. Congress.