WASHINGTON – Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., on Thursday expressed the need to send more defensive equipment to Ukraine following President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s address to Congress on Wednesday.
Ernst and Gallagher spoke to Fox News Digital at the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) Memorial Foundation’s first annual “Ruck the Reserve” event celebrating the authorization of a GWOT memorial on the National Mall. Both lawmakers commended the president for his leadership thus far and said they believe the U.S. can do more to push back against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.
Gallagher, who served as a U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer, told Fox News Digital that if he were in Zelenksyy’s position, he would be asking for “all the help” he could get.
“I don’t think that we’re going to impose a no-fly zone,” the congressman said of one of Zelenksyy’s pleas to Congress, but he added that there is a lot more the U.S. can do to prevent Russian aircraft from decimating cities like Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv.
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“There’s more air defense weapons we can give them. We’re talking about transferring the Switchblade 300 system,” Gallagher said, referencing a loitering missile system that the Biden administration has offered to deploy to Ukraine as part of its $800 million weapons package.
“I think we still do a ton in order to give him what he needs to make this extremely difficult for the Russians and force them to back down, even if we don’t go so far as to impose a no-fly zone.”
U.S. and NATO officials have suggested that imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which Zelenskyy has said would stop Russian forces for firing missiles at cities and civilians, would pose a threat to Russia and potentially provoke World War III.
Gallagher added that he “would have been in favor of transferring” a Polish aircraft system to Ukraine, but “the Biden administration backed away from that decision,” which the congressman believes made the U.S. “look a little weak.”
The Wisconsin congressman also believes that while there may be further escalation in Ukraine, he stopped short of echoing Zelenskyy’s concerns that a third world war has already started.
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Sen. Ernst, who served with the Iowa National Guard during the Iraq War, similarly said she believes the U.S. “can be doing more and should be doing more” to help Ukraine.
“We should provide them every opportunity to defend their country — a sovereign country — against these Russian invaders,” she said. “President Putin of Russia is an autocratic thug. He is murderous. He is going after innocent civilians. So, whatever we can do as the United States of America, we should be doing it. We should be encouraging our NATO allies to step up and do more, as well.”
Ernst’s comments come after President Biden on Wednesday called Putin a “war criminal.”
“Putin is inflicting appalling, appalling devastation and horror on Ukraine, bombing apartment buildings, maternity wards, hospitals. I mean, it’s God awful,” Biden told Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich. “The world is united in our support for Ukraine and our determination to make Putin pay a very heavy price.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing that the president’s remarks “speak for themselves,” but that a “legal process” is still underway at the State Department.
Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report.