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Hutchinson calling for ‘unified allied response’ against Russia

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen
Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaking to a meeting of state lawmakers in 2015.

As Russia began a military operation in Ukraine and warned other countries not to interfere, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said an “invasion of a sovereign nation cannot stand uncontested.”

On Twitter late Wednesday, Hutchinson said, “I hope you’ll join me tonight in praying for the people of Ukraine and for a unified allied response.” Russian President Vladimir Putin said any interference by other countries would lead to “consequences they have never seen.”

Hutchinson served as undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security at the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. In an interview with KUAR News earlier in the day, Hutchinson said “there's a lot at stake here and it's going to be some threats to the homeland in the areas of cyber security and energy prices.”

Hutchinson said he had received a classified briefing from Homeland Security officials and was concerned about what Russia could do. He noted the ransomware attack last year that shut down the largest oil pipeline in the U.S. for five days.

“Whenever you look at actors in Russia who took on the Colonial Pipeline, we know that that threat remains, and then secondly, of course, that impacts Arkansans with the potential jump in gas prices that we’re already suffering from and with a potential disruption of our energy supply,” Hutchinson said.

He said the situation emphasizes the need to increase energy production in the U.S.

“We don't need to be dependent upon these foreign sources that handicaps us when it comes to these threats,” Hutchinson said.

The governor said he believes people in the state understand what’s at stake.

“Arkansans understand that this is an issue of freedom, sovereignty of Ukraine and that it is Russia trying to recreate the Cold War that they lost.”

Michael Hibblen is News Director of UA Little Rock Public Radio. A 34-year radio veteran, he oversees the KUAR News staff, plans coverage and edits stories while also reporting and anchoring newscasts.