Montana's U.S. Senators Jon Tester, left, and Steve Daines, right.

Montana’s elected officials reacted late Wednesday and early Thursday to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester

In a tweet posted Thursday morning:

“Vladimir Putin single-handedly started an unprovoked war that makes the world less safe,” wrote Tester, a Democrat. “I stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and with every freedom-loving democracy in condemning Russia’s illegal military actions. The United States will continue to support the security and stability of our NATO and European allies in the face of these acts of war.”

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines

In a Twitter thread posted Thursday morning:

“I’m praying for the people of Ukraine and condemn Putin’s outrageous attack on their sovereignty and independence,” Daines wrote.

Daines, a Republican, also criticized President Joe Biden’s energy policy.

“Putin is a thug, and he has been empowered and emboldened by Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and his approval of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline while killing America’s Keystone XL pipeline,” Daines wrote, adding “The skyrocketing price of oil and resulting inflation are stark reminders of the importance of increasing, not decreasing, made in America energy.”

“I do not support sending American troops to Ukraine,” Daines also wrote.

U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale

In a tweet Thursday afternoon, Rosendale said the Ukrainian situation was less urgent than securing the U.S. border with Mexico:

“Now that Russia has begun their invasion of Ukraine, cries from war hawks on both sides of the aisle continue to grow louder to spill American blood and treasure in this conflict,” he wrote.

“The United States has no legal or moral obligation to come to the aid of either side in this foreign conflict,” he also wrote. “In talking to folks across Montana, they are much more concerned with stopping the invasion taking place in our country by millions of illegal aliens then (sic) they are the invasion of an Eastern European Country.”

In an Instagram post last week, Rosendale previously argued that the U.S. should prioritize securing its border with Mexico over intervening in a potential conflict between Russia and Ukraine. “We must gain operational control over our southern border before we send military and financial aid to secure the borders of an Eastern European country thousands of miles away,” he wrote.

Gov. Greg Gianforte

In a Facebook post at 9:40 p.m. Wednesday: “Tonight we pray for the safety of the sovereign, freedom-loving people of Ukraine. May God bless, watch over, and protect them.”

Gianforte’s office also issued a statement Thursday: 

“Putin’s unprovoked invasion of the sovereign, democratic Ukraine is an egregious act of war,” the governor said. “Montana stands with the freedom-loving people of Ukraine and continues to pray for their safety. The United States and our democratic allies should respond immediately with sweeping, strict, comprehensive sanctions against Russia.”

This story was updated after publication to include a new statement from Rosendale.

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Eric came to journalism in a roundabout way after studying engineering at Montana State University in Bozeman (credit, or blame, for his career direction rests with the campus's student newspaper, the Exponent). He has worked as a professional journalist in Montana since 2013, with stints at the Great Falls Tribune, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and Solutions Journalism Network before joining the Montana Free Press newsroom in Helena full time in 2019.