Salt Lake County councilman criticized for comments on Russian invasion

A Salt Lake County councilman was criticized Thursday after questioning why the U.S. should care about Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

"Are the values/human rights of Russia that much different than that of Ukraine? What would happen to the average Ukrainian if their taxes went to Moscow vs. Kyiv?" Councilman David Alvord asked in the Facebook post that has since been deleted.

"I think we're just talking about a small section of Ukraine. Help me understand why the U.S. should care. I've listened to a few reports. Putin = Evil? Is that it?" added Alvord, a Republican and former mayor of South Jordan.

The post shared by others on Twitter drew criticism from Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, who reposted it and said: "I'm often asked about the challenge of working with Council Member Dave Alvord. I'll let him speak for himself."

When reached for comment Thursday, Alvord said he strongly condemns Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"When I posted some questions a few days ago, I was trying to better understand the situation. As a result, I read many comments which did offer some important views," he said. "I stand with President Biden and hope for all the best for the people of Ukraine and the region."

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In an additional social media response to Wilson's post, Alvord contended that everyone agrees the invasion is "immoral and evil," but that the "harder part to judge" is how the U.S. should defend Ukraine or "how strong to push back against a nuclear superpower."

He said the U.S. needs to know "exactly what we are defending."

"We need to know if Ukraine is committed to human rights and freedoms. How is Ukraine curbing corruption? How likely will democracy be enacted there?" Alvord asked, along with several other related questions including why Ukraine isn't part of NATO.

Alvord added that some have "criticized me for asking questions. But aren't these the very questions responsible leaders should be asking? I am disappointed in those who would over-simplify such an important and nuanced foreign policy crisis."

In a statement early Thursday, Wilson said her "heart is breaking" due to the attack.

"This premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified act of war must unite us in compassion, as together we stand against tyranny," she said.

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Alvord's comments come as other Utah leaders continue to condemn the attacks on Ukraine and call for U.S. aid to Europe in the form of fuel to reduce its dependency on Russia.

As Russian forces bombard and advance on Ukraine, Utah members of Congress have called for President Joe Biden to impose the strongest possible sanctions on Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin.

Alvord's tweet wasn't the first time that Democrats in county government have criticized him. Last spring, in a post circulated on social media, he accused the "left" of wanting everyone to "have light brown skin," be the same gender, and have no children, among other things.

Democrats on the County Council said his words did not reflect the traditional embrace of diversity by the council and county government.

Alvord later issued an apology "for any who misunderstood my intentions," saying his comments about Democrats were "hyperbole" meant to start a discussion about "cancel culture."