Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) endorsed the idea of creating a no-fly zone over Ukraine amid the Russian invasion of the eastern European country, which grows deadlier by the day as Russian troops lay siege to population centers.
“Clearly, in the absence of a U.N. resolution, which Russia would veto, a strong coalition of like-minded nations should step in and seriously consider this,” Wicker told HuffPost on Monday.
Ukrainian officials are reportedly urging President Joe Biden and NATO to impose a no-fly zone over parts of the country as large numbers of Russian troops approach the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, but top White House officials have ruled out the idea.
A no-fly zone would require “implementation by the U.S. military — it would essentially mean the U.S. military would be shooting down planes, Russian planes,” threatening the outbreak of a larger war involving the U.S., White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.
“That is definitely escalatory, that would potentially put us in a place where we are in a military conflict with Russia. That is not something [Biden] wants to do,” Psaki said in an interview on MSNBC. “Those are all the reasons why that’s not a good idea.”
Most Republicans also oppose the idea of sending U.S. troops into Ukraine.
“They’re not a NATO country, as much as we want to help them. I don’t think we can get in a situation where we’re almost asking for engagement,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Monday when asked if he supported imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) offered a blunter response.
“That would mean World War III,” he told HuffPost.
But Wicker, who will likely become the next top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee after Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) steps down later this year, argued Russian President Vladimir Putin is “the one escalating this war.”
“Tens of thousands of women and children fleeing from Kyiv west have created a humanitarian situation that the international community needs to step in and be involved in,” he argued.
Earlier on Monday, Wicker issued a statement knocking Biden for taking “options off the table, including close air support,” amid the conflict in Ukraine.
That comment drew a response from Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who tweeted, “Let’s just be clear what that is - the U.S. and Russia at war. It’s a bad idea and Congress would never authorize it.”
“Military equipment for Ukraine, humanitarian support for Ukraine, crippling sanction on Russia, movement of U.S. troops to the eastern flank of NATO - these are all the right moves,” Murphy added. “But direct war between the world’s two nuclear powers should be a non-starter.