President Biden is traveling to Europe this week – a trip that could include Ukraine’s neighbor, Poland – for diplomatic discussions about the war in Ukraine. Russia has demanded Ukrainians surrender the city of Mariupol, which has been hit hard by Russian attacks. If Mariupol falls, Russia would gain a definitive hold over eastern Ukraine.
Democratic Congressman Marc Veasey of Fort Worth spoke with Texas Standard about the significance of Biden’s trip, the grave risk of a no-fly zone and how he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is guilty of war crimes. Veasey is a member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: Do you think Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian civilians should constitute war crimes?
Rep. Marc Veasey: Yeah, they absolutely should constitute war crimes. I don’t think there’s any question about that. I think it also proves that Putin really doesn’t have a real strategy on how he’s going to force Ukraine to become a compliant state and a compliant neighbor of Russia’s. What he’s doing just really doesn’t make any sense. And I think the more and more he does things like bomb children’s shelters and hospitals, that it’s going to make the world become even more distant from him, which is what, you know, he really doesn’t want.
What he would really like to happen is for the United States and Europe to be against Russia so he can sort of paint himself as a victim of hostile countries that would like to see regime change. But what he’s doing now, I think, is going to make even more of the world decidedly against him. And you have to wonder what he thinks is next. Like, what is his off-ramp with him going down this road?
What do you see as the immediate implications of President Biden’s visit to Europe?
I think it’s very important for President Biden to go to Europe. And first, you have to dial back the clock to just a few years ago when [Donald] Trump was president and he was so openly hostile towards NATO. You know, someone said, I’ve been seeing Republicans say, “Well, this wouldn’t happen if Trump was president.” And, you know, if Trump were president, this probably wouldn’t have happened because Putin would see Trump making his anti-NATO statements and him being so decidedly pro-Putin. He would see that as a benefit.
And so, of course, the timing for Putin to do all these things after Trump’s presidency had already expired was something that should be noted. And for Biden to go to Europe at this time, to let all of our allies and partners there and our strategic forces with NATO’s countries, know that, hey, we are going to be with you, we need to stand firmly against this together, I think the timing of him going is actually absolutely perfect.
Ukraine has asked for a no-fly zone. Do you think the United States should back that request?
I really want people to stop saying “no-fly zone.” As it relates to this particular engagement, people should take that terminology completely out of their vocabulary. There’s no such thing as a no-fly zone. There is such thing, in this scenario that we’re under, as a declaration of war. And so if you’re doing a no-fly zone, even trying to establish a no-fly zone is the start of World III.