OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, during her weekly press conference on Thursday, gave an update on whether there will be U.S. troops sent to Ukraine following an appeal for assistance a day earlier from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The California Democrat reiterated previous positions taken by members of Congress and the Biden administration that there are no plans to put American boots on the ground in the embattled country following Russia’s invasion nearly four weeks ago.
And to that point, Zelenskyy did not request American forces, but rather more weapons, especially anti-aircraft batteries, to continue fighting Russian forces, which reportedly are now bogged down and making no new gains on Ukrainian territory.
Pelosi also pushed back on Zelenskyy’s ongoing request for NATO to impose a ‘no-fly zone’ over his country.
Here’s a partial transcript of the exchange:
PERGRAM: “We’ve heard from you and from other numbers expressing the gratitude and moved by the speech by Mr. Zelensky yesterday. He asked however for some very specific things.”
REPORTER: “No-fly zones. He came close to almost admonishing members, if you don’t help us, you know, we are the precipice of history here. We hear a lot of these heartfelt messages from members and we want to help Ukraine, but when it comes to the specific things he’s asking for, Congress is not willing to do so. Can you [indecipherable] for us?”
Pelosi: “Yes. And I’m so pleased. A substantive question from Chad. Oh, my God.” (Laughter)
…Usually, it’s about this, that or the other thing. Anyway — it’s right on target Chad. I appreciate your question. Yes, it was a very moving speech. Yes, President Zelensky once again asked for open skies. I’ve had that conversation with him individually as recently the end of last week when he asked for the presentation that we all witnessed yesterday. We’re not doing open skies and he did say as did the speaker and this would be my third interaction with the Ukraine speaker, they know that’s not — we understand your position on that. These are the things we need otherwise. It just seems very clear that — let me back up for a second and just say President Biden has done a masterful job in managing this situation in a way that is collaborative not condescending or dictating but collaborative.
The unity of the — of the — not only the G-7 but the NATO alliance has been remarkable to be hold. They are all unified with how we go forward and how they are unified on how we go forward is that we are not going into Ukraine. It is not an Article V situation. We are however prepared to supply Ukraine with very sophisticated equipment some of which was alluded to yesterday and some of which the president already announced — was it at 11:30 yesterday? A couple of hours after President Zelensky’s presentation. Leadership of some of the committees of jurisdiction intelligence, armed services, foreign affairs and appropriations, appropriate subcommittees and the leadership had a briefing later in the day on what some of the possibilities are, the upside and the challenges that other requests make.”
REPORTER: “Is it appropriate for him to ask for those things?”
Pelosi: “Of course.”
REPORTER: “Even if Congress is in a position that they’re not willing to give him what he’s asking for?”
Pelosi: “Of course it’s appropriate. The fact is what he wants is a result. He wants a result that says we have to — if you are not going to give us air cover with your own — your own personnel we need air cover or we need equipment to effect air cover so that we can take out whatever the Russians are putting forth. So I think I — I feel like it was completely appropriate in saying this is what — this is the impact we need. If it’s not going to be affected by what I’m asking for then this is another way we can get that done and that’s what people are looking into. What you saw yesterday was history. Later at the lunch — just maybe you might want to watch, I’m going to be reading a poem written by Bono about Ukraine which you might find interesting.”