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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Fiscal board executive director calls for strict sanctions against Russia for invasion of Ukraine

Financial Oversight and Management Board Executive Director Natalie Jaresko

Governor: Conflict’s impact on Puerto Rico remains to be seen

By The Star Staff

As Financial Oversight and Management Board Executive Director Natalie Jaresko called upon Washington on Thursday to impose strict sanctions against Russia for attacking Ukraine, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said the impact of the conflict on Puerto Rico was uncertain.

“As for how this situation can impact Puerto Rico, well, obviously, the first thing that comes to mind is the impact on the oil and gasoline markets,” the governor said in response to questions from the press. “There may also be an impact on the markets and on interest rates, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s see what happens.”

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority began to store fuel supplies and prepare for what some say could be a long conflict along Europe’s eastern border.

When asked about government actions to mitigate increases in oil costs, the governor replied “we are going to see the decisions made by the president of the United States.”

“In the past he has used the U.S. oil reserves to stabilize the markets; oil reserves, natural gas reserves as well,” Pierluisi said. “So, again, what I can say is let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s hope that this will be resolved quickly, for the good not only of Ukraine, but for the good of the world.”

The Department of Consumer Affairs later in the day froze gasoline prices.

The governor confirmed that there are more than 90 members of the Puerto Rico National Guard near the conflict zone.

“They are not yet on stage as such, exposed,” he said. “But, they are in the area under the direction of the United States military.”

Russia bombarded cities as forces advanced toward Kyiv. As of Thursday afternoon, at least 40 Ukrainian service members had been killed. Russian forces captured the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

One of the people who was individually impacted by Thursday’s events was Jaresko, the daughter of immigrants from Ukraine.

“Ukraine is a peaceful country. The sole desire of the people of Ukraine is to live in peace and freedom,” she said. “Now, the world is witnessing an unprovoked and unjust attack on this peaceful nation by Russian military forces. Russia is violating international law, the Charter of the United Nations, and the Helsinki Accords. Most tragically, Russia is violating the very basic moral principles of Humankind.”

“Today, I stand with Ukraine. Today I lend my voice to the future of a peaceful and free Ukraine,” Jaresko said. “I beg every friend, every stranger, every American, to stand with Ukraine, to call on Washington and demand the most severe sanctions on Russia and Russians who facilitate this aggression – and, for those who believe, to pray for the people of Ukraine.”

Jaresko said she is the child of Ukrainian immigrants.

“My grandparents fled the Communist regime of Russia and the Nazi regime of Germany,” she said. “My mother was born a refugee in Germany. My father arrived in the U.S. as a teenager and served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War. Together, they raised three children and built a life here in peace and freedom.”

“When the Soviet Union collapsed under its lies and failures, I, as a first-generation American, returned to a free and peaceful Ukraine. For the next 25 years, I worked alongside brave Ukrainians to destroy the remnants of authoritarianism, hatred, and intolerance,” Jaresko continued. “Brick by brick, Ukrainians built new institutions, a new economy, new communities, an entrepreneurial class based on centuries of higher educational excellence. I, the daughter from Chicago, Illinois, was able to join the government of a free Ukraine in Kyiv, though the war had just begun.”

Now, eight years later, “missiles have been raining down on most major cities. Hundreds have died …,” she said. “The stakes are great.”

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