The United States must immediately enact an oil and gas embargo on Russia and give Ukraine all it needs, including lethal weapons and fighter jets, to defend itself against Russia, Sen. Ted Cruz said after senators participated in a call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday.
"It is incumbent upon the United States to ensure that our Ukrainian allies have what they need to defend themselves and that Putin does not have resources he needs to fund his war machine," the Texas Republican, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement to Newsmax after the call.
"The Ukrainian people and President Zelenskyy are showing the world what a free country looks like when fighting for its survival against totalitarian aggression, even at overwhelming odds," Cruz said. "We have all been moved by their bravery and heroism."
Congress will focus on aid for Ukraine in upcoming days, and should consider a "standalone Ukraine military aid package to get them the assistance they need as quickly as possible," Cruz said. "Ukraine, its people, and its leaders will not survive if we settle for half-measures and delay."
The oil and gas embargo should be mandated, Cruz said, and if the Biden administration won't do it on its own, "Congress should mandate that they do so."
"As President Zelenskyy told us, boycotting Russian oil and gas would be the most potent sanction we can impose, by far, and it is also the only economic sanction that can tenably and quickly affect Russia's ability to continue financing its aggression," said Cruz.
Zelenskyy also told the senators that his top priority is for Ukraine to take back control of its skies, "which are being used by Putin to wage war against cities and murder civilians," said Cruz.
"The United States and our allies should move immediately to provide them above all else with fighter jets, as well as with Stingers and other anti-aircraft assets," the senator said. "We must also continue supplying them with additional lethal aid, especially Javelins. Democrats in the Senate need to end their delays, and the Biden administration needs to cease withholding actionable intelligence from Kyiv."
Thursday, the Biden administration said it is asking Congress for $32.5 billion in a combination package, with $10 billion to assist Ukraine and the remaining $22.5 billion to restore key public health programs in the fight against future coronavirus variants.
There appears to be strong bipartisan support for the Ukraine military and humanitarian aid portion of the legislation, but some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are questioning the need for more COVID aid a year after the $1.9 trillion "American Rescue Plan."
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also on Thursday introduced legislation to direct President Joe Biden to impose a Russian oil ban and called for a declaration of national emergency. Nine Republicans signed on as co-sponsors to Manchin's proposal, along with a wide slate of Democrats.
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