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Doggett, Cruz, Castro learn and listen to Ukrainian president and activists' pleas for stronger aid

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Screen capture
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Democratic U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who represents San Antonio and Austin, participated in an hour-long phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday, during which Zelenskyy called on the U.S. to provide more aircraft and more support immediately.

Zelenskyy claimed that more civilians than soldiers have been killed during the conflict, and that civilians had been targeted and tortured.

"Because they control the skies, Russians can advance," Doggett explained in a statement on Saturday. "Without engaging U.S. pilots in direct conflict with Russians, we can facilitate Ukrainian access to aircraft with which Ukrainian pilots are already trained and which are held in other Eastern European countries."

He added that he has authored trade sanctions bills he hope will pass in the House.

The Democrat was part of larger bipartisan group of congressmen and senators on the call, which also included U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican.

In a statement on Saturday, Cruz said that "the United States should immediately implement an oil and gas embargo on Russia. ... [B]oycotting Russian oil and gas would be the most potent sanction we can impose, by far, and it is also the only economic sanction that can tenably and quickly affect Russia's ability to continue financing its aggression."

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro meets with members of Ukrainian San Antonio
Jennifer Gonzalez
Texas Public Radio
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro meets with members of Ukrainian San Antonio.

The call came one day after the nonprofit Ukrainian San Antonio met with another Texas legislator, U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro, in San Antonio.

Members on the nonprofit explained to Castro that they wanted support from the U.S. government beyond just economic and financial sanctions.

Ukrainian native Viktoriya Lundblade mourned the invasion's destruction of region she remembers as gorgeous and peaceful.

"Please stop this war," she said. "I want to come to my hometown that’s already bombed, and I would like to still see my people who is there. I would like peaceful, peaceful Ukraine, peaceful my hometown, and I wish my friends would be alive and safe."

Castro said stricter sanctions should be placed on Russia.

"Myself and a Republican from Missouri, Ann Wagner, are asking the president to do everything that he can to help impose not just financial sanctions, but social and cultural sanctions," he explained. "Making sure that sporting organizations and other American organizations, international organizations aren’t doing any kind of business or work in Russia."

Castro also encouraged residents to talk to their elected representatives at all levels and make them aware of how important the issue is to them.

Ukrainian San Antonio scheduled a peaceful protest at Alamo Plaza on Saturday afternoon.

Members also planned to set up a station at the Pearl shopping complex this weekend, where they would take family photos of shoppers and passers-by. The proceeds from the sales would go to help fund humanitarian aid and medical needs in Ukraine.

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Jerry Clayton can be reached at jerry@tpr.org or on Twitter at @jerryclayton.