Maria Elvira Salazar, who represents Florida’s 27th congressional district, told reporters she “absolutely” supported Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s calls for a no-fly zone when asked on Wednesday.
“Absolutely, I support everything that has to do with punishing Vladimir Putin and helping the Ukrainians,” Ms Salazar said when asked whether or not she supported a no fly zone in Ukraine while adding, “I don’t know what it will mean but freedom is not free”.
“So you don’t know what a no-fly zone will mean? You do have to shoot down Russian planes I mean”, said a reporter forThe Greyzone who asked Ms Salazar about the potential fall-out from doing “direct convention warfare with Russia” as a result of any no-fly zone for Ukraine.
“Of course”, Ms Salazar said, ending the interview, and appearing to acknowledge there were consequences, albeit unknown ones, of coming into conflict with Russian forces.
While Mr Zelensky and his government have called on the US and Nato allies to defend Ukraine’s airspace from Russian attack, capitals including London and Washington have so far rebutted the idea over fears of coming into direct conflict with Russia, also a nuclear power.
“All the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you, because of your weakness,” Mr Zelensky said last week as he repeated calls for help defending Ukraine from aerial assault. “The (Nato) alliance has given the green light to the bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages by refusing to create a no-fly zone.”
Speaking again to Ukrainians on Wednesday, he added that “a genocide of Ukrainians is taking place” and again accused the US and Nato of failing to stop Russia so that it “no longer has any possibility to continue this genocide.”
Many former military US and Nato figures have however come out in favour of the measure, with former UK army general Sir Chris Deverell arguing this week that “Putin seems hell-bent on escalation. So the question is becoming: does Nato fight him now or fight him later?”
Following the comments by Ms Salazar, many on social media accused the Florida Republican of failing to understand the severity of the situation and wrote: “The escalation of violence never solved anything but more deaths”.
“Anddddd she’s on the House Committee for Foreign Affairs,” another wrote. “We’re doomed”.
The Independent has approached Ms Salazar for comment.
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