After hearing Ukrainian President Zelensky in a virtual meeting with US lawmakers on Saturday, Senator Joe Manchin reiterated his support for cutting off the Russian oil sector from the United States and said he would not make the choice of a no-fly zone over Ukraine. “Off the table.”
Manchin described Zoom’s meeting with Zelensky as “surreal,” saying on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “Everyone [Zelensky] Basically I asked, just help me. I will fight my journey, just give me the tools to do it, and to hesitate, anyone who hesitates in the free world is a sin.”
Pressed privately on Zelensky’s request for a no-fly zone, something that top US and NATO officials have pushed back, Manchin said, “I won’t take anything off the table, but I will make it very clear that we will support the Ukrainian people.”
Manchin stressed that the Ukrainian president also asked Western countries to help send more planes to his country to fight Russia.
“Zelensky said clearly that we do not need to fight us. We do not want you to lead our planes or fly your planes into our war zone. We need planes that we can fly ourselves, and we have them on the border.”
The West Virginia Democrat again voiced his support for banning Russian oil imports, saying that his voters believe “it’s stupid that we keep buying products and giving profits, giving money, to Putin so that he can use them against the Ukrainian people.”
Some context: Manchin and Senator Lisa Murkowski introduced a bipartisan bill Thursday to cut Russian oil and increase US domestic production to offset it.
Addressing the potential economic impact of the move, Manchin said gas prices were already high and “it wasn’t because of that.”
“Inflation has really messed it up now, and we’re basically going to say we’re going to sit down now because we’re afraid it’s going to go up a little bit more, and it might go up anyway. We didn’t do anything. I’m willing to do at least something,” he said, adding that he believes That the United States could ramp up domestic energy production and transition to cleaner fuel technology at the same time.
When asked about the impact of the war in Europe on how his party deals with its climate agenda, part of President Biden’s social spending plan that Manchin effectively halted last year, he replied, “I think it makes us more realistic. It’s the real world. We keep talking. About these ambitious things we want to do, whether it’s far left or right whatever, forget ambition.”
“Our energy that we produce in America is better and cleaner than anywhere else in the world, so anything we recycle will be better than what they produce,” he said.
Manchin said there are no official talks underway right now about Biden’s spending plan.
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