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Manchin supports leaving Ukraine no-fly zone an option, banning Russian oil imports despite soaring inflation

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Sunday he believed the option of declaring a no-fly zone above Ukraine should not be taken off the table, a move that NATO allies so far have avoided despite repeated pleas by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy due to the risk of broader conflict with Russia. 

On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a conference call with a bipartisan group of more than 280 congressional lawmakers, including Manchin.

“It was surreal to have a person on the front lines,” Manchin said about the call Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” basically, seeing his people being slaughtered and willing to withstand all of this and fight back and all he asks for was basically just help me, I’ll fight my own fight, just give me the tools to do it. And for us to hesitate or for anyone to hesitate in the free world is wrong. And he said that. He said if Ukraine falls, Europe may fall.” 

“Do you support a no-fly zone?” host Chuck Todd asked, noting that doing so could lead to a wider conflict. 

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“This is not the Russian people’s war, this is Putin’s war,” Manchin said. “But to take anything off the table thinking we might not be able to use things because we’ve already taken them off the table is wrong. I would take nothing off the table, but I would be very clear that we are going to support the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian president, his government every way humanly possible. Zelenskyy was very clear, he says 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, and we can fly ourself, and we have them on the border.”

Zelenskyy again on Sunday called for a no-fly zone over Ukraine after eight missiles bombarded the city of Vinnystia, located in west-central Ukraine far from the frontline. 

Manchin, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, also said he would support a ban on Russian oil and gas despite inflation having already driven gas prices over $4. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday the U.S. is weighing a ban on Russian oil imports “in coordination” with European and NATO allies amid bipartisan calls for a full embargo. 

“People in my state of West Virginia believe it’s basically foolish for us to keep buying products and giving profit and giving money to Putin to be able to use against the Ukrainian people,” he said. “We have the energy. We have the resources here. And we have the technology…. We don’t have to put any more pain on the American people than they’re already suffering with inflation now.” 

“Look at the gas now $4 – it wasn’t because of this. Inflation’s already wreaked havoc on it now,” he said. “Basically we’re gonna say we’re gonna sit back now because we’re afraid it’s gonna go up a little bit more? It might go up anyway, and we haven’t done nothing. I’m wanting to at least do something and whatever it will take, we’re going to ramp up our energy, produce the oil, the natural gas, build the pipelines. We’ve been stymied. We’re not getting anything done from the standpoint of energy.” 

Manchin said in his state of West Virginia, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which could bring 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas into the marketplace a day, is 95% done but the project has been repeatedly stalled. 

“The thing that I’m worried about every day is inflation right now. It’s affecting every West Virginian, every American that I know of,” Manchin said. “Basically supporting Ukraine and saving freedom and democracy around the world because it will permeate if we don’t stop it. 

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