OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded with U.S. lawmakers for more assistance as his country continued facing an onslaught by Russian forces amid a worsening humanitarian disaster.
“Don’t allow brave and strong people who share your values to be exterminated,” Zelenskyy reportedly said on a call with some 280 U.S. lawmakers via Zoom, Fox News reported.
Specifically, The Ukrainian leader asked for a complete embargo of Russian oil and far more lethal aid than his country has received thus far. In addition, Zelenskyy asked for NATO to impose a no-fly zone in the skies over his country, as well as fighter planes.
NATO and the U.S. have rejected the no-fly zone request. Also, Putin has said he would consider the establishment of a no-fly zone akin to a declaration of war.
In an interview on Sunday with ABC News’ “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, explained what setting up a no-fly zone would entail and what it would lead to.
“You know, the — look, a no-fly zone has become a catchphrase. I’m not sure a lot of people fully understand what that means,” Rubio began.
“That means flying AWACs 24 hours a day. That means the willingness to shoot down and engage Russian airplanes in the sky. That means, frankly, you can’t put those planes up there unless you’re willing to knock out the anti-aircraft systems that the Russians have deployed, and not just in Ukraine, but in Russia and also in Belarus,” the senator noted further.
“So basically a no-fly zone is — if people understood what it means, it means World War III. It means starting World War III,” he added.
He supports the transfer of aircraft to Poland if that country transfers some of its planes to Ukraine, as does Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said Sunday he planned to do all he could to make it happen.
“President Zelenskyy made a desperate plea for Eastern European countries to provide Russian-made planes to Ukraine,” Schumer of New York said, according to Fox News. “These planes are very much needed. And I will do all I can to help the administration to facilitate their transfer.”
“Senator [Mitch] McConnell and I along with the other members … are working very hard in a bipartisan fashion to get all the assistance the administration has requested for the Ukrainian people,” Schumer said during the meeting, according to Axios.
“Together we will get that assistance of over $10 billion in economic, humanitarian and security assistance to the Ukrainian people quickly,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian president said cutting off Russian funds would be one of the most effective tools against Putin.
“Zelensky claimed that an oil embargo would be the most significant sanction the U.S. could impose — more significant than disconnecting Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system, which Western countries agreed to do last week,” Axios reported.
For his part, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) agreed. In a video posted to Twitter on Sunday, he praised the Ukrainian people, backed the transfer of fighter planes to Kyiv, and also called for greater sanctions on Russia including its oil sector. He added that the “Putin war machine, in my view, is in full-blown war crimes mode.”
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) March 5, 2022
Early Monday, the Biden administration approved the transfer of warplanes from NATO countries to Ukraine, Fox News noted in a live update. The network also reported that Putin has implemented a cease-fire around major Ukrainian cities early Sunday morning at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron.
“The Russian Armed Forces announce a ceasefire regime from 10:00 Moscow time and open humanitarian corridors from Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkov and Sumy – the Russian humanitarian headquarters,” the Russian government said in a tweet, according to a translation.
It added: “The decision was made at Macron’s request to Putin.”
Вооруженные силы России с 10:00 по мск объявляют режим тишины и открывают гуманитарные коридоры из Киева, Мариуполя, Харькова и Сум — российский гуманитарный штаб.
Решение было принято по просьбе Макрона к Путину
— Лента.ру (@lentaruofficial) March 7, 2022
BREAKING: Russia declares ceasefire in the areas of Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkov, and Sumy from 10 a.m. Moscow time to allow for evacuations
— BNO News (@BNONews) March 7, 2022