Y’all Politics

Mississippi Senators, Congressmen among members to hear from Ukrainian President

Here is what they had to say on the next steps in Russia’s war, including thoughts on a “no fly zone.”

By Frank Corder

On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed a joint meeting of the United States Congress, outlining the atrocities taking place in his country as Russia continues its unprovoked war and invasion.

Zelensky has asked the U.S. and other NATO allies to impose a “no fly zone” in Ukraine to aid the war-torn country as Russian President Vladimir Putin intensifies his forces’ moves both on land and in the air.

Mississippi’s federal delegation watched the address, keenly interested in the European war and its impact on the Ukrainian people. They also know Russia’s actions will be felt here at home.

As such, officials say all options to stop Putin should be on the table.

“We are cautiously optimistic that Ukraine will continue to defend itself against Russia’s aggression,” Congressman Trent Kelly told Y’all Politics. “We must leave every option on the table, to include but not limited to, energy independence, sanctions, removal from the SWIFT banking system, and removal from the UN Security Council, to deny Putin’s advance and maintain a democratic and sovereign Ukraine.”

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith agrees. She told Y’all Politics on Thursday that is why she supported the increased aid to Ukraine and the sanctions being levied against Russia. However, the Senator notes much of this is a result of failures by the Biden Administration.

“Congress has now appropriated almost $14 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine and our allies in Eastern Europe,” Hyde-Smith said. “The Biden administration’s early diplomatic efforts failed.  Now that we’re in this situation, we need President Biden to act quickly to get help to Ukraine. A lot of this should have been done weeks or even months ago.

Senator Hyde-Smith is among the Senators who signed a letter to President Biden calling for him to expedite aircraft and defense systems to Ukraine, including those offered by Poland and other NATO-member countries.

Senator Roger Wicker was in Poland over the weekend where he met with upper-level officials and even served Ukrainian refugees.

“I left the Ukrainian border convinced that it will take a continued and intensified effort from the United States and our NATO allies to stop Vladimir Putin,” Wicker wrote on his Facebook page. “America must remain steadfast in our support with allies and lead NATO from the front.”

Both Senators Wicker and Hyde-Smith joined the growing chorus of federal lawmakers calling for Russia to be removed as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

“Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine violates the principal purpose of the U.N. Security Council, namely to uphold international peace and security among nations. That alone is reason enough to strip Russia of its permanent membership on the council,” Senator Hyde-Smith said.

As for whether the U.S. should participate in imposing a “no fly zone” over Ukraine as Zelensky has urged world leaders, including President Joe Biden, that remains in doubt as it could be perceived as an act of war.

“Vladimir Putin has no legitimate right to invade Ukraine and the images of the destruction and loss of life caused by the Russian invasion deserve a strong and consistent response,” Senator Hyde-Smith said. “We all want to do everything we can on the military and humanitarian front to help Ukraine, short of a world war. We realize enforcing a no-fly zone could be perceived as an act of war.”

Congressman Michael Guest echoed Senator Hyde-Smith on the “no fly zone” issue, adding that at this point he does not support that unless there were use of chemical weapons.

“President Zelenskyy made a very compelling speech on behalf of the people of Ukraine,” Guest said in a recorded statement following the Ukrainian President’s congressional address. “I think I speak not only for myself but for every Member of Congress that was present that America continues to stand in solidarity with Ukraine and we will continue to provide both economic and military support.”