MAINE, USA — Members of Maine's congressional delegation call for continued support for Ukraine after the country's president addressed members of Congress virtually Wednesday.
"It was moving. It was inspiring, and it really was a call to action from an extraordinary leader whose country is being besieged and baited and its citizens indiscriminately killed," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told NEWS CENTER Maine.
Three of Maine's four members of Congress attended the virtual address. Rep. Jared Golden is quarantining after testing positive for COVID earlier in the week.
During the address, Zelenskyy discussed previous attacks on U.S. soil, like 9/11 and Pearl Harbor, comparing the current situation in Ukraine to those attacks. He also urged Congress to provide additional military aid for the nation.
"I believe that more needs to be done. I agree with President Zelenskyy. I admire his strong leadership, and I'm inspired by the Ukrainian people," Collins said. "President Zelensky's call for more sanctions on Russian officials was appropriate, as was his request that American businesses stop doing business in Russia."
Shortly after Zelenskyy's address, President Joe Biden said the U.S. is sending more anti-aircraft, anti-armor weapons, and drones.
Like Biden, Maine's members of Congress are hesitant to establish a no-fly zone.
"A no-fly zone means that you are there to shoot down Russian planes. And that will be seen as a provocation, and we're dealing with Putin who has his finger on [the] nuclear weapon button," said Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine.
"They're fighting for democracy. They're fighting for western values. But we also have to balance our response and calibrate it carefully to maximize the benefit to the Ukrainians without risking World War III," Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said. "The president's decision to continue the arming of Ukraine, of working with NATO on sanctions and also the arming of Ukraine through NATO countries, humanitarian assistance is the right path."
Representative Jared Golden, D-Maine, wrote in a statement to NEWS CENTER Maine that he believes the action taken by Biden today doesn't go far enough to continue supporting Ukraine.
"A growing and bipartisan coalition of House and Senate lawmakers support efforts to send MiG jets, S-300 surface-to-air missiles, and other missile defense systems to Ukraine. This becomes more urgent with every passing day as Russia continues to target cities and is killing thousands of Ukrainian civilians. The assistance announced by President Biden today, following President Zelensky's address to the United States Congress, falls short of providing the Ukrainian government with the resources that it has requested for the protection of its civilian population against indiscriminate shelling and bombing by Russia," Golden said.
Pingree, however, applauded Biden for addressing the Ukrainian president's plea for more aid.
"President Biden quickly answered President Zelensky's urgent plea, announcing the U.S. will provide nearly $1 billion in additional support to help Ukraine fend off Russia's assault. With this new pledge, the $13.6 billion in humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine Congress secured last week, and the severe sanctions imposed on Russia to hold Putin and his circle of oligarchs accountable, the United States has demonstrated our firm commitment to the people of Ukraine. However, it's also clear more assistance will continue to be needed, and I'm committed to working with my colleagues to make that happen," Pingree said.
King said the U.S. would continue to be watchful of Russian attacks in Ukraine.
"If they raise the level of civilian attacks, and move towards chemical or biological weapons, that'll provide an even more severe response," King said.
Other political leaders from Maine are also calling for additional humanitarian aid. Collins suggested the idea of a potential airlift to bring refugees that fled Ukraine to Poland to safety.
"I even think we should consider a humanitarian airlift of some of the refugees in Poland," Collins said.
"How can you possibly watch what's going on every day and not say how can we open our homes and our hearts to assist them?" Pingree said.