“Horror grips us as we watch you die
All we can do is echo your anguished cries
Stare as all your human feelings die” – Wooden Ships, David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Paul Kantner, 1969
As if the COVID-19 epidemic wasn’t enough for us to handle.
Shock, anger, fear and confusion reign as the latest crisis grips our world stage. Local leaders and community officials have mixed opinions on the cause of the latest invasion by Russia, but the area is united in their support for Ukrainians and rallying against a common enemy: Vladimir Putin
I am going to go further and definitely side with the recent sentiments of singer, musician and human rights activist Peter Gabriel: “Putin is a War Criminal.” Afraid leaders of both political parties may have miscalculated Putin’s hand in earlier years and months. However, this is not a time for second-guessing and doing Monday, morning political quarterbacking.
But just as we survived the pandemic, we will weather through the latest crisis and just hope we don’t have to ever experience the horrific, post-nuclear war “Wooden Ships” sci-fi tale once envisioned by a few musicians of Crosby, Stills and Nash and Jefferson Airplane 50-plus years ago at the height of the Cold War. How some realities and fears never change.
The following are some of the reactions from key leaders and community figures. In future issues we will outline ways folks can get involved in helping those in need, and specify impacts we can expect and make proper preparation plans.
In the meantime, stay strong and pray for the folks in Ukraine.
Rick Langenberg, TMJ Editor
Local Leaders and Residents Speak Their Minds On Ukraine War Invasion
“A dark day has dawned in the Ukraine and Europe and US leadership in the world will be tested once again. Please pray and stay focused on this one. Many of us who have served also now have family members in the military, some already in Europe. I fully expect to see announcements of more US based troops heading over to Europe in the days ahead. All of us will be impacted economically much sooner than we realize. We were already at a very critical point in our country with so many Americans struggling to recover from the past two years. Teller County is strong and understands sacrifice and helping neighbors. In the days, weeks and months ahead, Teller County residents will need to lean on each other and remain resolved, supporting our families, our military and our government as they grapple with next steps. God bless our men and women in uniform, the citizens of a free and independent Ukraine, and show us grace and guide our country through what comes next. I have been to the Ukraine as an officer multiple times. They are a free people and this is the 21st Century – the days of empire building are over and, in the end, most of us, especially combat tested Veterans, know what happens next.” Dan Williams, Teller County Commission Chairman
“We will certainly feel the impacts at the pump, so the president needs to undo his short-sighted decision to stop the Keystone pipeline and curtail US drilling permits, especially here in Colorado. Although we only import a small amount of oil from Russia, we need to regain our energy self- sufficiency. Our veterans I’m sure feel the pains and worry of seeing a rejuvenated Russian Empire. Many of our veterans served for decades to stop the expansion of communism during the Cold War and now with the Russians going ‘hot’ and invading Ukraine, it throws all of Europe into a position it hasn’t seen in over 75 years. Our thoughts and prayers certainly are with our servicemen and women deployed across the Eastern European region and those preparing and training here in the states to answer the call. God Bless them in their missions.” Erik Stone, Teller County Commission Vice-Chairman
“This attack by the Russian President on the People of Ukraine is barbaric. It is evidence that freedom is never free. This should be a reminder that we have real enemies overseas that want to harm us and others, and that we, as Americans are not each other’s enemies. It’s time for America to be united, every single one of us, against this external threat. Please keep the brave people of Ukraine in your hearts and prayers.” Hilary LaBarre Woodland Park Mayor and an active-duty military wife
“I am what is classified a Vietnam era veteran. Ironically, I never deployed to Vietnam, my time was spent fighting the Cold War. To translate that statement, I studied and practiced defending against a Soviet (Russian led) invasion of Europe. So, I have more thoughts than can be easily captured in an email. Couple my past with the fact that my son, LTC Paul Neal, is in the transition timeline for assuming command of a battalion my thoughts and information are deeper than most. So, I cannot give a simple answer. It’s complex. We, as a community, must set aside our political agendas, at least for the next several weeks, and show solidarity around the President’s strategy. We must convince Putin that when it comes to a destabilizing attack on world peace, his actions will not stand. The USA and all its citizens support the President’s decisions. He must ‘hear’ our message; he will ultimately suffer the same fate as every dictator throughout history. We must demonstrate, unequivocally that Putin grossly misjudged the resolve of Americans. That he equally misjudged the support he thinks exists from the ex-President and the ex-President’s supporters. We are unified against Putin’s actions.” Rusty Neal, military veteran, Woodland Park Councilman
“It is so unfortunate and our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine. This is a very scary situation in Europe. This has been the biggest military aggression since World War II. It has escalated far above what many thought was going to happen. It definitely is going to lead to higher energy prices and probably other problems. At times like these, we feel a lot safer here in Cripple Creek.” Ray White, Cripple Creek Interim City Administrator.
“We are selling lots off guns and weapons. People are nervous right now and want to be protected. Business has been really good. As for the situation (with Ukraine), I think Ukraine is going to receive plenty of guns, ammunition and weapons from us and other countries, but no extra troops. Putin must be scratching his head right now, and wondering what is going on and what is going wrong. He is encountering some great and heroic opposition.” Jon DeVaux, co-owner of Alpine Firearms and veteran city leader.
“Long term impacts will be an increase of prices again. This is pretty shaky stuff right here. It is a little bit scary. Now NATO is sending troops to the border and I get it. But when you start putting more and more troops on alert and everybody is tense it leads to accidents. And then accidents lead to escalation. It’s not only about Russia but now China wants to take Taiwan. Me personally I didn’t think it was going to happen but it did. This is unprecedented. We have a very weak administration in office in the U.S. right now. Europe has been weakening itself for years and NATO has become extremely weak. Russia and China are going to do whatever the hell they want. Someone said, ‘Only the dead have ever seen the end of war.’ And then Albert Einstein said, ‘I know not with what weapons World War Three will be fought, but World War Four will be fought with sticks and stones.’” Elijah Murphy, military veteran and co-owner of The Historic Ute Inn
“I am furious with the President for putting us in a position where we might have to commit troops to this. I am very fearful for what could happen to our troops out there, just because we have a President who is so stupid, he took away our economic power that would have been used previously to sanction Russia and keep them from doing what they have done. We have no teeth anymore at the world stage and because of that we may end up losing American soldiers, marines, airmen, or sailors. And that really, really bothers me badly. It seems like whenever we get into a mess like this, we have a Democratic President. And now we have Biden who wants to throw us at the Russians after he has taken our teeth away. If we go to war gas prices will rise, taxes will go up and the resources we enjoy every day will go to war efforts. I’m sure we have people who are active duty in Teller County who may or may not come home after something like this. And that is just a shame. I am all about the military going in and fighting the good fight for causes that aren’t ridiculous. And unfortunately, we find ourselves in a ridiculous cause now.” Tommy Allen, military veteran and a Teller County Commissioner Candidate for District 2.
“My opinion as a veteran is that I don’t know any soldier or anyone who wants to go to war again at all. But I also know that if we have to defend ourselves, we are going to defend ourselves 100 percent and Russia does not intimidate us at all. I don’t know anyone who likes violence in that sense but they will do what they are called to do. As a business owner, we know it will have an effect but we just don’t know what. I think we will see higher oil and gas prices depending on how long this will go on. There will be an immediate impact on the military families here.” James Dean, veteran real estate agent
“The biggest things that come to mind are the potential loss of lives of all of our military friends and families in the region. Oil and gas prices will also definitely surge as the U.S. is no longer a key player in oil production. I think that food prices will also continue to rise as Ukraine is known as the bread basket of Europe. The other thing I have read that is a little scary is the declaration of cyber warfare. The U.S. and others have committed to conduct cyber-attacks on Russia. But, expect Russia to increase its cyber-attacks on the U.S. leaving just about every citizen at risk of malware infections and possible identity theft. If nuclear war does happen someday, Colorado Springs could become a prime target due to the military bases in the area.” Trevor Phipps, TMJ Staff Writer, Community Ambassador
Voices Outside the Region
“Very shocked to see so many Ukrainians being killed, to see a totally unnecessary war being deliberately started in Europe. This invasion is one man’s barbaric decision. This action is a war crime, and whatever else happens, this man should never be allowed to leave Russian soil again.” Peter Gabriel, Pop Singer, Musician and Human Rights Activist
“Putin considers the expansion of [nato] to Eastern Europe and the Baltic states a direct threat to Russia’s security, and the idea of Ukraine drawing closer to nato—whether through the still far-off prospect of formal membership or by hosting nato troops in the meantime—an existential red line. As a result, Russia is attempting to rewrite the history of the Cold War, and ‘tens of millions of Ukrainians’ have become the unwitting hostages in Putin’s attempt to wrest a better deal.” New Yorker magazine
“Weakness invites aggression. Vladimir Putin has invaded Ukraine, with all the bloodshed, destruction, and instability that brings, as a direct result of Joe Biden’s weakness. In just 13 short months, Biden made a disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, failed to fully sanction the Nord Stream II Pipeline, and begged the Russians and others to increase oil production after shutting down the Keystone XL Pipeline. Although the blood of innocent Ukrainians is on Putin’s hands, it is Joe Biden’s failures that set the stage. Weakness invites aggression.” Doug Lamborn, U.S. Congressman for Colorado’s 5th District, including Teller and El Paso counties.
“America’s energy independence has never been more important to our economy, national security and the safety for our allies throughout the world. How many times will Democrats fail to recognize that the instability of world affairs and economic shocks come at the hands of dictators who fuel their terror on the world stage with dollars we and our allies are forced to spend on their oil and gas exports? It’s time to be smarter than the dictators. I call on this administration and my colleagues in the United States Congress to immediately unleash our national energy production capabilities. We must regain our energy independence and also take immediate steps to export far more of our clean liquid natural gas to our European allies. Taking these steps will help tame inflation, contain our enemies’ ability to fund their military ambitions and strengthen democracies throughout the world. We must act now. We must put America First.” Lauren Boebert, U.S. Congresswoman of Colorado’s 3rd District
“Putin is a ruthless dictator. (Russia’s) military aggression in Ukraine violates the freedoms we hold in our nation and support around the world. Colorado stands on the side of freedom. War, violence and chaos threaten the very foundation of the global economy and out national security. I assure Ukrainians that they have the support and prayers of our state.” Jared Polis, Colorado Governor.’
“We stand ready to support the people of Ukraine, you’re not alone. Working with our allies, we must enact crippling sanctions and show Putin the consequences of his tyranny will be devastating for Russia.” John Hickenlooper, U.S. Senator for Colorado.