AUSTIN (KXAN) — U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat that represents Austin, said after an hour-long conversation with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Saturday morning, he supports sending fighter jets to Ukraine.
“Without engaging U.S. pilots in direct conflict with Russians, we can facilitate Ukrainian access to aircraft with which Ukrainian pilots are already trained and which are held in other Eastern European countries,” Doggett said in a statement after the call.
The video call with Zelenskyy, who has vowed to stay in Ukraine’s capital and fight, was with the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the United States.
Doggett said the comments from Zelenskyy were “powerful” and that it was made clear during the call that more Ukrainian civilians have been killed, targeted and tortured.
Doggett noted that because Russia controls the skies over Ukraine, they can continue to inflict harm on Ukrainian civilians.
“In addition to the trade sanctions bill that I have authored and which the House can pass next week, I support getting Ukraine access to the fighter jets needed to confront Putin in the skies,” Doggett said.
Zelenskyy also called for a ban on Russian oil imports. When asked if the U.S. was close to banning imports, Doggett said he thinks it could happen soon.
“I think it will be incorporated into the bill that I filed on trade sanctions and expelling them from the World Trade Organization, and that the house can approve it on Tuesday. The sanctions however, while very powerful, are not going to get them the relief they need immediately. I’m in favor again of getting them anything they need, specifically, these old big fighter planes, to get those accessible to them so they can reclaim the skies and try to prevent the devastation that is going on that we’re seeing played out,” Doggett told KXAN.
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also said he supports sending more air support to Ukraine.
“President Zelenskyy told us his top priority is that the Ukrainians need to take back their skies, which are being used by Putin to wage war against cities and murder civilians. The United States and our allies should move immediately to provide them above all else with fighter jets, as well as with Stingers and other anti-aircraft assets,” Cruz said.
Zelenskyy had asked NATO to create a no-fly zone over the country but that request was officially denied Friday.
NATO warned such a move could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear power Russia, the organization’s top civilian official said.
Doggett said the world needs to act fast in responding to Russia’s aggression.
“We’ve not really had another situation like this since 1945, where one country decides that it will absorb an attack another country, and totally unprovoked. If that kind of thing can happen with Ukraine, it can happen and erode democracy across Western Europe,” Doggett said.
“We have to push back now. How this ends is difficult to see, because Putin has totally changed the whole dynamic, we have no choice but to isolate, as effectively as we can, Russia from the rest of the world, and offer Ukraine protection against this attack, hoping that eventually, some peace can come out of this,” he continued.