Amid an invasion by Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the U.S. Congress virtually Wednesday morning. He called for more help from the U.S. to fend off Russian attackers.
Oklahoma Congresswoman Stephanie Bice was in attendance, and called the address “emotional.”
“He mentioned Pearl Harbor. He mentioned 9/11. He talked about the faces of Mt. Rushmore and how they symbolize freedom and peace,” said Rep. Bice. “And I think it was a reminder for everyone sitting there listening to him that that’s what he’s fighting for. He’s fighting for freedom and peace for the people of Ukraine.”
Both parties have been united in their support of Ukraine since Russia invaded the country more than three weeks ago. But there is one area where there has recently been some fracturing.
Last week, the Pentagon rejected a plan from Poland to transfer its MiG-29 fighter jets to a U.S. base in Germany for use by Ukraine. U.S. defense officials called the move “not tenable,” citing logistics concerns and worry of escalating tensions with Russia.
But since then, lawmakers from both parties have called on the administration to get weapons and jets in the hands of Ukrainian fighters. It’s something Rep. Bice believes the U.S. should be considering.
“At this point, we’re providing anti-aircraft missiles and other defense for Ukraine,” said Bice. “We’re not suggesting as members of Congress that our own U.S. troops are being sent to fight this battle. This is allowing them to protect their country, and so allowing them access to the MiG’s if they’re requesting it is a reasonable ask, provided that we’re able to find a pathway to get them delivered.”
However, there’s another request from Ukraine that has seen no movement from U.S. lawmakers. President Zelenskyy again on Wednesday urged the U.S. to support a no-fly-zone over Ukraine. That has been a non-starter for the U.S. and NATO allies, as its believed that could be seen as a direct provocation against Russia.
“That would be, I think, provocation, or at least viewed as provocation, by Russian President Putin. And I think it would be an escalation, in his mind, of this war. And so there is reluctance for NATO members to engage in a no-fly-zone at this time,” said Bice.
Congresswoman Bice today also introduced another bill to help Ukraine through the Russian invasion. It’s called the ‘Make Russia Pay’ Act.
According to Bice’s office, HR 7083 would establish a Ukrainian humanitarian aid fund at the U.S. Treasury. That fund would then be filled by Russian assets seized by the U.S.
“We believe there’s about $100 billion in assets that are currently with the Central Bank that can be repurposed, if you will, to help rebuild Ukraine and provide humanitarian assistance,” said Bice.