President Biden has repeatedly rejected the idea of more air cover for Ukraine in its war with Russia, warning that sending Polish fighter jets to Ukraine — or enforcing a no-fly zone above it — could lead to a global conflagration with a nuclear-armed foe.
“That’s called ‘World War Three,’” Biden told Democratic lawmakers Friday.
Biden’s reluctance to provide Ukraine with some kinds of military assistance that the Eastern European country has requested will face its biggest and most emotional test Wednesday morning, when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses Congress as part of a virtual tour of Western capitals this month.
Zelensky’s speech to U.S. lawmakers is expected to be equal parts beseeching and defiant, asking the Biden administration — as he has other Western allies — to “please close the sky” above Ukraine. The speech is also likely to provide an opening for Republicans, who have already begun criticizing Biden for being too cautious and weak in his handling of Russia’s aggression.
Zelenky has proved to be a capable and inspiring leader, with an ability to prompt outpourings of global support. And he has shown himself willing to simultaneously rally and shame world leaders who he believes are not offering sufficient support in Ukraine’s war with Russia.