After hearing from Ukrainian President Zelensky in a virtual meeting with American lawmakers on Saturday, Sen. Joe Manchind reiterated his support for cutting off the Russian oil sector from the US and said he wouldn’t take the option of a no-fly zone over Ukraine “off the table.”
Manchin called the Zoom meeting with Zelensky “surreal,” saying on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “all [Zelensky] asked for basically, just help me. I’ll fight my own flight, just give me the tools to do it, and for us to hesitate, for anyone to hesitate in the free world is wrong.”
Pressed specifically on Zelensky’s request for a no-fly zone, something top US and NATO officials have pushed back on, Manchin said, “I would take nothing off the table, but I would let it be very clear that we’re going to support the Ukrainian people.”
Manchin emphasized that the Ukrainian president also asked for Western nations to help get more planes to his country to fight Russia.
“Zelensky very clearly said we don’t need you to fight our fight. We don’t need you to fly our planes or fly your planes into our war zone. We need the planes that we can fly ourselves, and we have them on the border,” he said.
The West Virginia Democrat again expressed his support for banning Russian oil imports, saying his constituents think “it’s basically foolish for us to keep buying products and giving profit, giving money, to Putin to be able to use against Ukrainian people.”
Some more context: Manchin and Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced a bipartisan bill on Thursday to cut off Russian oil and increase US domestic production to make up for it.
Addressing the potential economic impact of this move, Manchin said gas prices are already high and “it wasn’t because of this.”
“Inflation has already wreaked havoc on it now, and basically we’re gonna say we’re gonna sit back now because we’re afraid it might go up a little bit more, it might go up anyway. We have done nothing. I ‘m willing to at least do something,” he said, adding that he thinks the US can both ramp up domestic energy production and transition to cleaner fuel technology at the same time.
Asked about the effect of the war in Europe on how his party approaches its climate agenda, part of President Biden’s social spending plan that Manchin effectively stalled last year, he answered, “I think it makes us more realistic. world. We keep talking these aspirational things we want to do, whether it’s the far left or right whatever it may be, forget about the aspiration.”
“Our energy that we produce in America is better and cleaner than anyplace else in the world, so anything that we backfill is going to be better than what they produce,” he said.
Manchin said no formal talks are going on right now about Biden’s spending plan.
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