October 1, 2022

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Ukraine's president asks Congress to help secure Russian-made fighters

Ukraine’s president asks Congress to help secure Russian-made fighters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked for help in getting more lethal military aid — especially Russian-made jet fighters that Ukrainian pilots can fly — and backed a proposal to ban the United States Russian oil importsin a video call Saturday morning with members of Congress.

There were more than 200 House and Senate members on the call, the people involved said. Mr. Zelensky spoke for 25 minutes before answering questions.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Kentucky) asked Mr. Zelensky what one thing he desperately needed, according to two people on the call. The Ukrainian president responded with the need for combat aircraft. He also talked about founding No-fly zone over UkraineBut he said, through an interpreter, “If you can’t do that, at least bring me planes,” according to a person on the call.

Ukrainian service personnel dismantle Javelin anti-tank missiles last month.


Photo:

Valentin Ogirenko/Reuters

Eastern European allies have Russian military aircraft that can be flown to Ukraine. Senator Dick Durbin (D., Illinois), the second Democratic senator, said the United States should help make the plane’s transfer possible. “We must remove every obstacle to providing all support measures to Ukraine to include finding a way for the United States to compensate our Eastern European partners who wish to donate their Soviet aircraft to Ukraine,” he said in a statement.

Another lawmaker said in an interview that Congress might direct the money into a pending spending bill to replenish European allies’ stocks.

Mr. Zelensky said that aircraft were more important than the Stinger anti-aircraft missiles that the US had given the green light.

The request, which comes as Congress finalizes fiscal spending legislation for 2022 that is expected to be a vehicle for the new US aid to Ukraine, may complicate those negotiations. With the House aiming to pass this legislation before Democrats withdraw on Wednesday, and the government-funded law expires Friday, negotiators must decide whether to determine that the $10 billion in additional aid includes provisions to stimulate aircraft deliveries to Ukraine.

“President Zelensky has made a desperate plea to Eastern European countries to provide Ukraine with Russian-made aircraft,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DE, NY) said in a statement after the call. These planes are badly needed. I will do everything in my power to assist the administration in facilitating their transfer.”

One underlying tension is whether arranging the transfer of aircraft to Ukraine would amount to a More direct involvement in the conflict. Some lawmakers say it won’t. The appeal over planes, as well as drones, has prompted lawmakers from both parties to urge the Biden administration to do more to facilitate the transportation of Russian planes.

Asked about Ukraine’s request for the planes, Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken said: “We are talking and working on everything.” He refused to approve in particular the provision of combat and attack aircraft. But he said, “We are, once again, looking at everything, and as I said before, support for Ukraine has not only been unprecedented, and will not only continue, but will increase.”

A White House spokesperson said the United States is working with Poland on this issue and is consulting with the rest of its NATO allies. “There are a number of difficult practical questions, including how aircraft can actually be transported from Poland to Ukraine,” the spokesman said.

“We are also working on the capabilities we could have to fill Poland if it decides to move planes to Ukraine.” He said the United States did not oppose moving the plane, saying it was a “sovereign decision for any country”.

A US defense official said allied countries are considering supplying Ukraine with Russian MiG29 and Su-25 aircraft. The official said the US military would back up the US planes, but it was unclear how that would work.

“We are not standing in the way,” the official said.

President Biden said the US military would not enter Ukraine. And the Since the invasion of Russia on February 24The Pentagon said that no US aircraft had flown over Ukraine.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R.

Captured areas as of Saturday

The direction of the invasion forces

Under the control of or allied with Russia

Main refugee transit sites

The territory of Ukraine, recognized by Putin as independent

Chernobyl

Not in operation

controlled by

separatists

Captured areas as of Saturday

The direction of the invasion forces

Under the control of or allied with Russia

The territory of Ukraine, recognized by Putin as independent

Main refugee transit sites

Chernobyl

Not in operation

controlled by

separatists

Captured areas as of Saturday

The direction of the invasion forces

Under the control of or allied with Russia

Main refugee transit sites

The territory of Ukraine, recognized by Putin as independent

Chernobyl

Not in operation

controlled by

separatists

Captured areas as of Saturday

The direction of the invasion forces

Under the control of or allied with Russia

Main refugee transit sites

The territory of Ukraine, recognized by Putin as independent

Captured areas as of Saturday

The direction of the invasion forces

Under the control of or allied with Russia

Main refugee transit sites

The territory of Ukraine, recognized by Putin as independent

President Biden has said the United States will not fight Russian forces in Ukraine, even though the U.S. military has provided weapons. The Biden administration said it would send up to $350 million in additional military aid, including “lethal defense assistance.”

The United States and NATO Resist entering the conflict directly. Mr. Zelensky has pushed for a no-fly zone over his country, but Biden and allied leaders dismissed the move as escalatory. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, said on Friday that the organization is a defense alliance that does not seek conflict with Russia.

A Senate aide said Senator Rob Portman (R., Ohio) plans to send a letter to the Pentagon asking him to ship US jet fighters to Eastern European countries that donate Russian-made jet fighters to Ukraine.

Mr. Zelensky spoke through an interpreter during the call, using simultaneous interpretation, so there was not much hesitation.

At one point, Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) jumped in and asked about a ban on Russian oil imports, according to two people. Mr. Zelensky agreed that the United States should halt such purchases.

Mr. Manchin, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced a bipartisan bill Thursday that would ban domestic imports of Russian crude oil and other oil and energy products, in a move aimed at choking off a source of income for the Russian president.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

during his invasion of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian president has been consistent, calm and emphatic at times about what US lawmakers want from airports, homes and cars, according to a person on the call.

“It was very clear that he thought carefully about what he needed to do,” said Representative Jim Himes (D., Connecticut), adding that Mr. Zelensky sounded sharp. “He looked better than I did on a Friday evening from a normal week.”

write to Siobhan Hughes at [email protected] and Lindsay Wise at [email protected]

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