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Queens Chamber of Commerce joins condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Queens Chamber condems Russia
The Kosciuszko Bridge was bathed in the colors of Ukraine’s flag as Queens and New York State showed solidarity following Russia’s invasion last week.(Courtesy of governor’s office)

As Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine rages into a second week with forces attempting to encircle the capital city of Kyiv, the Queens Chamber of Commerce urged all businesses to withdraw their membership from the U.S.-Russia Chamber of Commerce.

The move comes Monday, Feb. 28, one day after Governor Kathy Hochul signed an executive order that directed all New York State agencies and authorities to review and divest public funds following Russia’s “unjustified and unprovoked attack” on the sovereign nation.

“In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing death and destruction it has caused, the Queens Chamber of Commerce calls on all members of the U.S.-Russia Chamber of Commerce to withdraw their membership from the organization, and for the Internal Revenue Service to suspend the organization’s 501(c)(6) status until the occupation and aggression ceases,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Grech said. “As the oldest and largest business association serving the most diverse community on earth, we cannot in good conscience support any economic activity between the U.S. and Russia while Russia is engaged in an invasion that violates international law and Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

The Queens Chamber represents more than 1,400 businesses and more than 150,000 borough-based employees.

“The thoughts of everyone at the Queens Chamber of Commerce are with the brave Ukrainian people defending their homeland,” Grech said. “We pray that peace is restored soon.”

Hochul noted that New York state is home to the largest Ukrainian population in the United States and remains engaged with the Biden administration and is prepared to support refugees of the crisis.

“Russia has chosen to attack democracy and we will stand with Ukraine as we condemn these atrocities,” Hochul said. “Our state will not permit its own investment activity, whether directly or indirectly, to aid Russia as it omits these human rights violations. New York is home to the largest population of Ukrainians in the United States — they are our family and an attack on them is an attack on all of us. We will make our statements and values known and show solidarity with Ukraine as we rebuke this assault on democracy.”

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, denounced Russia’s unlawful invasion.

“I am horrified by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which endangers the lives of innocent civilians, disregards international law, and could create a major humanitarian crisis in Europe,” Maloney said. “To be clear, Putin personally provoked this war despite numerous opportunities to seek a diplomatic solution and avoid conflict. He bears full responsibility for the bloody consequences. Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, the response to Russia’s aggression from the United States and our allies will be swift and severe. The Oversight Committee condemns Russia’s blatant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and their right to self-defense.”

Congressman Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he firmly supports the Biden administration’s unified, multilateral responses to Putin’s heinous attack on Ukraine.

“These financial measures, as well as the additional options the president is considering, are only the beginning of the unprecedented cost Vladimir Putin is inflicting upon himself, his cronies and the Russian people,” Meeks said. “If President Putin does not bring an end to this senseless and unprovoked war, the United States and our allies around the world will continue to increase pressure in lockstep. The costs imposed on Russia with these sanctions, export controls and other measures will be severe, but they cannot make up for the tragic loss of life wrought by Putin’s hand.”

In an unprecedented move, the United States and its allies moved to block Russian banks from the SWIFT international payment system and placed curbs on the Russian central bank’s international reserves.

“In this dark hour, we will continue to support the Ukrainian people through assistance, and through further punitive measures on Russia, the architects of its kleptocracy, and on Putin himself,” Meeks said.

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