Lauren Moye, FISM News
According to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the White House remains adamant on their stance that a “no-fly zone” above Ukraine would lead to a larger, multi-country war. However, the U.S. has signaled a willingness to help provide military airplanes to Ukraine through a tri-county deal with Poland.
Blinken said on Sunday during an NBC News Meet the Press interview that President Biden has “been very clear” about the position of putting the U.S. “in direct conflict with Russia.” At Chuck Todd’s prompting, Blinken responded to a statement made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday.
The former comedian and now national hero expressed consternation about NATO’s denial of a no-fly zone through a Telegram address, “All the people who will die from this day forward will also die because of you, because of your weakness, because of your disunity. Today, the Alliance’s leadership gave the greenlight for further bombing of Ukrainian cities…”
Blinken expressed “admiration” and understanding for Zelenskyy’s request as well as the ways the U.S. has aided the country. However, he said that Biden “also has a responsibility to not get us into a direct conflict, a direct war with Russia, a nuclear power, and risk a war that expands even beyond Ukraine to Europe.”
“That’s clearly not our interest,” the Secretary of State added. “What we’re trying to do is end this war in Ukraine, not start a larger one.”
This view has been expressed multiple times since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 by both Blinken, NATO leaders like the Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki. On both Feb. 28 and March 3, Psaki said during a White House press meeting that a no-fly zone “would require deploying U.S. military to enforce” and may prompt a “direct conflict” and “war” with Russia.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) agreed. “I’m not sure a lot of people fully understand what that means,” he said yesterday in an ABC’s “This Week” interview, before stressing it would mean constant air patrol and enforcement by taking out violating planes. “It’s not some rule you pass that everybody has to oblige by. It’s the willingness to shoot down the aircrafts of the Russian Federation, which is basically the beginning of World War III.”
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) March 6, 2022
Despite the hesitancy to engage in direct conflict, NATO countries and the U.S. are willing to provide additional military aid to Ukrainian soldiers through the provision of fighter jets. After previously saying NATO countries had a “green light” to provide fighter planes to Ukraine, Blinken confirmed on Meet the Press that a tri-country deal was in discussion where Poland would provide Russian-built planes for Ukraine’s use. The U.S. will then provide additional fighter jets to “backfill” Poland’s hangars.
Blinken said it was still an “active discussion” in the U.S. “to make sure that we can help them and, again, backfill what they’re giving so that they don’t have any loss in their own ability to provide security.”
Senator Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) also joined Todd on the show where he discussed a recent call between Congress members and Zelenskyy. Manchin reported, “Zelenskyy was very clear. He said, “We don’t need you to fight our fight. We don’t need you to fly our planes or fly your planes into our warzone. We need planes that we can fly ourselves, and we have them on the border.”
When asked about the potential Poland-U.S.-Ukraine deal, Manchin signaled strong agreement: “We need to backfill that.”