A member of Ukraine’s parliament called President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech “a total disappointment” on TODAY Wednesday, as she called for a no-fly zone to protect her country from Russian airstrikes.
Oleksandra Ustinova expressed frustration with Biden and the international community for not offering more protection to Ukraine, specifically against Russia’s military aircraft. She said “the whole of Ukraine” was watching Biden’s speech on Tuesday night.
“To be honest, it was a total disappointment for us,” she told Savannah Guthrie. “I can explain why. Today, the whole world is watching Ukrainians being executed. I cannot name it the other way around.
“The right definition is an execution because we see bombs going into our civilian houses every day, we see children dying every day on the streets or in their houses if they didn’t make it to the bomb shelter, we see bombs coming to the orphanages, to the schools. And we had been promised a protection by the international community. We gave up our nuclear weapons.”
Ukraine once possessed the world’s third-largest arsenal of nuclear weapons following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
However, the sovereign nation signed the Budapest Memorandum in 1994 in which Russia, Britain and the U.S. committed to refrain from attacking Ukraine in exchange for the country turning over its nuclear arsenal to Russia to be dismantled.
On TODAY Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris reiterated Biden’s State of the Union comments that the U.S. will not send troops to Ukraine to fight against Russia. Biden said the U.S. will “defend every inch” of NATO territory, but that does not include Ukraine because it is not a member of NATO.
“And today when I see President Biden saying that we’re going to protect every inch of the NATO territory, excuse me, we’ve been promised the same thing when we gave up our nuclear weapons,” Ustinova said. “The Russians have totally destroyed all of the airports in Ukraine, the majority of the roads. We are grateful for help, but we need protection in our sky.”
The Biden administration has said it will not send military aircraft to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine because that would amount to a direct confrontation with Russian forces.
“We have been protecting ourselves on the ground, but if we do not protect our sky, if there is (not) a no-fly zone or if there is no dome to protect it with the air defense, we will all go down,” Ustinova said. “People will literally die.”
Ustinova wanted to know what it would take for the U.S. to heighten its involvement beyond economic sanctions and military assistance of NATO countries bordering Ukraine.
“What is the red line that (Vladimir) Putin has to cross for NATO and the U.S. to step in?” she said. “We’re not asking for boots on the ground. We’re asking for the iron dome or for the no-fly zone.
“We need the protection of the sky so that the bombs and the missiles do not hit our children. Every time I hear about the possible provocation from Putin — Putin is a psycho. He doesn’t need to be provoked. We did not do anything. We didn’t do anything in 2014, we did not provoke him now. He still invaded, and he’s bombing the cities, he’s bombing the civilians.”
Ustinova also expressed doubt that NATO would come to the military defense of members like Poland or the Baltic countries if Putin decided to invade them.
She questioned the use of sanctions that do not include targeting Russia’s massive oil and gas industry, which is the nerve center of its economy.
Earlier, Harris said on TODAY that the U.S. has taken steps to “mitigate the impact on the American consumer” of any disruption in the global oil supply that could result from the backlash against Russia.
“Then we have to go and tell every American that the president of the United States is protecting them from paying an extra 20, 30 cents for a gallon of gas and that’s why so many Ukrainians have to die,” Ustinova said.