SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — As the war in Ukraine enters its third week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a direct appeal to the US Congress to help bring peace to his country.
Before a receptive congress, Zelensky pleaded for a no-fly zone over Ukraine to help protect the country.
Zelensky also showed graphic video of the situation on the ground in Ukraine, as the civilian death toll continues to rise in the country.
Biden responded by praising Zelensky and for the first time on Wednesday said he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin has committed war crimes.
Hours after Zelensky’s appeal to Congress, Biden signed off on an additional $800 million in military aid to Ukraine. The move is part of a larger $13 billion aid package that includes anti-aircraft systems, small arms, and specialized drones.
Andrey Gorokhov is a Ukrainian businessman who is seeking safety in Warsaw, Poland while the conflict in Ukraine rages on. "He explicitly showed what we do have right now in Ukraine. We have a war." Gorokhov shared candidly. "A no-fly zone gives us certainty that no or almost no rockets will get to our land."
Gorokhov also shared his thankfulness of the given aid in response to Zelensky’s request.
“It’s certainly, it's better to have it than not to have," said Gorokhov.
Why can't the United States move forward and enact a no-fly zone?
Former National Security Council director on Russia, Jeffrey Edwards says that's a bad idea for the United States. "That quickly means, we're shooting down Russian jets. That turns us into an all-out war,” said Edwards. “The Russian army has started very poorly and have done really poorly, so if we can help them hold on, I think that's what we should be doing. He's clearly asking for more, but I don't think he feels abandoned by us or undercut by us. I think he's probably surprised at the amount of support he's gotten."
Erik Gartzke, Director of Peace and Security Studies agrees. "The big threat to Ukraine right now from the Russians is Russian artillery and that's not going to be stopped by a no-fly zone," said Gartzke.
He says the response to help Ukraine is immense and includes assistance we can and cannot see. "All western capitals and militaries are doing right now is trying to find ways to help the Ukrainians that don't look as blatant or don't look as obvious," said Gartzke.
Edwards warns Americans should be on alert for what could happen next.
"There are scenarios in which Europe can get engulfed in a war with Russia that would involve us and once we're all involved, we're all potential targets not necessarily for nuclear things but for more conventional weapons."
President Biden detailed US military aid to Ukraine just hours after Zelensky's address to Congress saying, the US is fully committed to getting more weapons to Ukraine.
Biden also said he is committed to making sure Ukraine is not a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin, no matter what advances Russia makes on the battlefield.
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