Since February 25, when Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine, nearly 700 civilians have died, according to the United Nations. A pregnant woman in Mariupol, who was in the maternity hospital that was shelled by Russian troops, has died, according to the Associated Press. Daily, videos and pictures show apartment buildings being shelled, and the West is getting reports that those attempting to flee Ukraine are reportedly fired upon as they try to escape.
The human rights office of the United Nations reported Monday morning that of the 636 civilians killed as a result of the Russian invasion, at least 46 Ukrainian children have been killed (Reuters). (NOTE: Fox News cited a Ukrainian official who said this number was closer to 85).
Meanwhile, the Biden Administration has worked with European allies to craft and enact economic sanctions on the Russian government. Initially, these sanctions had to do with Russian financial institutions, but the public outcry regarding allowing Russia to utilize SWIFT to carry out monetary transactions spurred the White House to say they would capitulate. The only exception was that Russia could use SWIFT, a financial messaging system, to trade oil. Soon after, more sanctions came, yet the fighting in Ukraine carries on.
For nearly a week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded with the United States to allow for Poland to provide MiG-29 fighter jets to stop the assault on civilian targets in Ukraine. However, that’s one request the Biden Administration has failed to fulfill.
Widespread pressure from Washington lawmakers on both sides of the aisle is being exerted on the White House to allow for the transfer of MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. These jets are Polish, not American; yet, the Biden Administration continues to point out that allowing the transfer could escalate growing tensions between the United States and Russia.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been rather vocal in his support for the proposal; on an interview with Fox News, Graham said, “Putin threatened Biden, and he folded like a cheap suit.”
Graham is not alone in a group of lawmakers who believe Biden should reverse his stance on allowing for the transfer. Republican Mitt Romney (R-UT) has also spoke out on his belief that the U.S. should assist Ukraine in every way possible.
However, the White House has a litany of excuses as to why the reversal would be a bad idea for Americans, including the idea that this action would be “high-risk, low-reward.”
President Joe Biden has said that Ukraine “does not really need the aircraft.” However, the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus said on Sunday: “We, the 58 members of the Caucus, urge continued U.S. commitment to the sovereignty of Ukraine and the freedom of the Ukrainian people. . .”
The statement from the Problem Solvers Caucus called for America to provide “additional defense material” to Ukraine. Some Democrats have come to Biden’s defense on the matter; on Sunday, Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) told Fox News that the facilitating of the planes to Ukraine via Poland poses a problem in “raising the involvement of NATO . . .it’s an air raid on Russian forces taking off from Poland (once that plane takes off from Poland).”
Last week, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters: “The intelligence community has assessed that the transfer of MiG-29 fighter jets may be mistaken (by Russian government) as escalatory and could result in significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects of a military escalation with NATO.”
Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor, has also said the United States will defend NATO territory, but will place no US forces in Ukraine.
This fear of escalation has also prompted the Biden Administration to refrain from considering a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said multiple times that any country sending aid – at least in the form of weapons – would be considered meddling in the conflict and “consequences you have never seen” if nations interfered on behalf of Ukraine.