Members of Maine’s congressional delegation said they favor providing additional sanctions and military equipment to support Ukraine after President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to Congress Wednesday and asked for more aid, sanctions and a no-fly zone to help defend his country against the Russian invasion.

Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Jared Golden, D-2nd District, all said the United States needs to continue to back Ukraine. However, none of the Maine lawmakers expressed support for enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

“President Zelensky is a courageous leader, and his presentation to Congress this morning was so powerful and moving,” Sen. Collins said in a written statement.

“I don’t know how anybody could listen to him and see the videos of casualties and destruction in Ukraine and not be in favor of providing additional assistance to counter the horrendous Russian bombardment from the sky,” Collins said. “We should allow the transfer of the Polish MiG fighter jets, provide additional weaponry and drones, cease to do business in Russia, and implement broader sanctions.”

Following Zelensky’s address, Biden announced $800 million in new military aid to Ukraine, including 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 100 grenade launchers, 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenade launchers and mortar rounds, and an unspecified number of drones. That’s in addition to $200 million in aid announced Saturday.

King held a news conference after Zelensky spoke and said the U.S. response has been extraordinary while also avoiding escalating the conflict.

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King said Biden’s decision to slap economic sanctions on Russia and provide military equipment and humanitarian aid has helped Ukraine and hurt Russia without provoking Russia into starting a wider war or using nuclear weapons, which “could and would be disastrous for the world,” King said.

King said that Zelensky’s address further strengthened his resolve to help Ukraine and that it’s hard to stay on the sidelines of the war, but it is important to consider the risk and horrors of escalation to a nuclear world war and it’s crucial to continue to walk the line of aiding Ukraine without provoking Russia into further widening the war.

“That’s the terrible dilemma that’s facing this country and facing the president,” King said.

Implementing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, something President Zelensky has repeatedly urged the U.S. to do and Biden has consistently declined, would be both dangerous and ineffective, King said. Having American pilots shooting at Russian pilots would quickly escalate the war, and most of the shells hitting Ukraine are not coming from planes anyway, but from missiles and artillery, he said.

“The utility of a no-fly zone in terms of the actual protection of the Ukrainian people would be very limited,” King said.

Pingree and Golden echoed Collins’ and King’s sentiments.

“Congress heard from a true hero today,” Pingree said in a written statement. “My message for President Zelensky is this: ‘The United States hears you. We stand with you. And we will continue to support you.'”

Pingree backed the additional support announced Wednesday by Biden, saying “the United States has demonstrated our firm commitment to the people of Ukraine. However, it’s also clear more assistance will continue to be needed, and I’m committed to working with my colleagues to make that happen.”

Golden said in a written statement that the need to provide additional support to Ukraine “becomes more urgent with every passing day as Russia continues to target cities and is killing thousands of Ukrainian civilians.”

But Golden said more needs to be done, and that the assistance Biden announced “falls short of providing the Ukrainian government with the resources that it has requested for the protection of its civilian population against indiscriminate bombing and shelling.”

Golden is part of a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers advocating for the Biden administration to help protect Ukraine’s airspace with weapons systems, planes and further sanctions.


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