The Biden administration and U.S. lawmakers rejected establishing a “no-fly” zone above Ukraine, fearing it will only mean war between the United States and Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told a bipartisan group of senators Saturday on a Zoom call that America must initiate a no-fly zone to help protect his people against Russia’s invasion of their country.
On ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican and vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, suggested Sunday that a no-fly zone could result in World War III.
“Basically, a no-fly zone is — if people understood what it means — it means World War III. It means starting World War III. So, I think there are a lot of things we can do to help Ukraine protect itself, both from airstrikes and missile strikes, but I think people need to understand what a no-fly zone means,” he said.
“It’s not just — it’s not some rule you pass that everybody has to oblige by. It’s the willingness to shoot down the aircraft of the Russian Federation, which is basically the beginning of World War III,” he added.
Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, concurred with Mr. Rubio saying that a no-fly-zone in Ukraine “would be the beginning of World War III, would drag all of Europe into a much broader war.”
“I don’t think it’s in our interest, the interest of Europe, to have the United States and Russia — the two world’s biggest, most-equipped nuclear superpowers — going to war directly against each other,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
He and Mr. Rubio both said, however, that the U.S. should provide additional military equipment and more humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd on Sunday that the U.S. has no interest in entering into “direct war with Russia, a nuclear power.”
“The president’s been very clear about one thing all along as well, which is we’re not going to put the United States in direct conflict with Russia. Not have American planes flying against Russian planes or our soldiers on the ground in Ukraine,” Mr. Blinken said.
“What we’re trying to do is end this war in Ukraine, not start a larger one. And by the way, keep in mind … what a no-fly zone means. It means that if you declare a space no-fly, and a Russian plane flies through it, it means we have to shoot it down,” he said.
Some senators suggested sending American unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Ukraine to supply the Ukrainian air force directly or via NATO allies such as Poland.
“Ukraine needs airpower urgently and America should send it. Zelenskyy‘s message is simple: ‘close the skies or give us planes.’ Let’s be clear-eyed about our options: A No-Fly Zone means sending American pilots into combat against Russian jets and air defenses — in a battle between nuclear powers that could spiral out of control quickly,” Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.
“But Americans should absolutely send Ukrainians planes, helicopters, and UAVs. Let’s resupply Ukraine’s Air Force today and keep the Ghosts of Kyiv in the skies,” Mr. Sasse said.
Mr. Zelenskyy, in a speech Saturday from Kyiv, denounced the reaction of NATO allies who do not want to establish a no-fly zone in his country and that Russia has a “green light” to carry on shelling Ukrainian cities.
He said he did not think that taking such action could “provoke Russia‘s direct aggression against NATO.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Saturday that any type of action toward creating a no-fly zone in Ukraine would be viewed by Russia “as participation in an armed conflict by that country.”
The Russian leader also stated that the Western sanctions imposed on his country were “akin to a declaration of war, but thank God it has not come to that.”
— This article was based in part on wire-service reports.
• Kerry Picket can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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