Last Tuesday, I joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to listen to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy address Congress via video from a secure location near Kyiv. President Zelenskyy thanked the United States for our support, but he also asked for increased assistance in two ways – he asked for more defense systems and fighter jets, and he asked us to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
I agree with President Zelenskyy that the United States, as well as our NATO allies, should provide Ukraine with more military aid. Whether this comes directly from us or through our allies like Poland, we can and should give Ukraine the tools they need to counter Russian aggression. Poland has MiG-29 fighter jets they can give to Ukraine, and we can in turn provide Poland with American F-16s to replace their jets. Thankfully, there is bipartisan support for this in Congress, and President Biden is set to visit Poland and meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda later this week.
Although I support providing Ukraine with increased military aid, I am strongly opposed to the United States enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine. A no-fly zone is very tough to enforce and would likely lead to a shooting war with Russia. If the United States were to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, it would take just one Russian aircraft crossing into the airspace or just one American fighter jet being shot down for World War III between nuclear powers to start. This is the last thing we need right now.
I’ve been encouraged and inspired by the fighting spirit of the Ukrainian people, and I truly believe Putin’s power and position on the global stage are diminishing as a result of this war. Regardless of the outcome, Putin has majorly miscalculated and has sustained far more losses than he ever expected. Putin has a time clock on him, the Russian people are beginning to wake up, and I truly don’t know what his end game is.
From the start of this conflict, I have argued that we should do more to help Ukraine and its people, but Europe and our NATO allies need to take the lead, especially when it comes to boots on the ground. Our commitment to our NATO allies has been strong, but for years, the United States has gotten too involved in foreign conflicts. I’m tired of us fighting other people’s fights and unnecessarily putting our folks in harm’s way.
Let’s give Ukraine the tools they need to fight and aid to help struggling families survive, but let’s keep ourselves out of the conflict. President Zelenskyy has made clear he does not need American troops, but he does need American military aid. This is Ukraine’s fight – not America’s. Let’s do what we can to help.
Jerry Carl represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. He lives in Mobile with his wife Tina.