• Tue. May 30th, 2023


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Rubio, U.S. Lawmakers Are Largely Opposed to No-Fly Zone Over Ukraine

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress on Sunday emphasized what has become a widely held position on Capitol Hill: that the United States should respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by banning Russian oil imports, but not by imposing a no-fly zone over the country that could draw nuclear powers into war.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike took that position on a variety of Sunday morning television news programs.

“It makes no sense whatsoever to continue to buy oil from Russia that they use to fund this war and this murderous campaign that they’re undertaking,” Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He added that there was support for supplying Ukraine with supplies and aircraft after the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, made that request to Congress on Saturday.

But Mr. Rubio and others said the risks of the United States imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine — as Mr. Zelensky also requested — were too great. On ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Rubio said that move would draw the United States directly into the war between Ukraine and Russia, starting a conflict between two nuclear-armed powers.

“It means starting World War III,” Mr. Rubio said, adding that “people need to understand what a no-fly zone means. 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.”

Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, agreed on “Fox News Sunday”: “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.”

Mr. Murphy said he expected Congress would pass a $10 billion emergency spending bill this week to provide more arms and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, in response to requests by Ukrainian officials for additional support.

The $10 billion proposal includes $4.8 billion in additional funds for the Pentagon to cover the deployment of U.S. troops to NATO countries, increased intelligence and cybersecurity support and to replenish the weapons the Defense Department has already sent to Ukraine, such as Stinger missiles. It also includes $4.25 billion in new funding for economic and humanitarian assistance for Ukrainians, including the 1.5 million refugees who have already fled from the bombarded nation.

“We need to make sure that we’re reinforcing Ukraine and providing as much lethal aid as possible,” Senator Joni Ernst, Republican of Iowa, said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding that the United States should also reinforce humanitarian aid, “making sure that we are able to provide for those refugees that will be flowing into Europe.”

There was one notable exception to the rejection of the no-fly-zone proposal. Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, said on NBC’s “Meet The Press”: “I would take nothing off the table.”

“For us to hesitate, or for anyone to hesitate in the free world is wrong,” Mr. Manchin said of taking additional steps to try to deter Russian aggression.

The comments came a day after Mr. Zelensky spoke with more than 300 members of Congress, imploring them to ban the importation of Russian oil and to send more jets to his country.