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This is a rush transcript of “Fox News Sunday” on March 6, 2022. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Shannon Bream.
Day 11 of Russia’s war on Ukraine as Vladimir Putin ramps up his threats, and a temporary ceasefire looks increasingly fragile.
BREAM (voice-over): Russian troops press into cities as Ukrainians flee for the borders.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are all humans. We should stay together.
BREAM: Or head to shelters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope all this violence and cruelness end soon.
BREAM: And Ukraine presses for a no-fly zone but the U.S. and its NATO allies say that’s off the table.
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: U.S. troops are not going to be fighting in Ukraine. That includes in the skies over Ukraine.
BREAM: Plus, the Biden administration putting the economic squeeze on Putin while continuing support to Ukraine’s leader.
We’ll ask Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, about her nation’s resolve and what they need from the West to stay in the fight.
Plus, the debate over U.S. energy policy as gas and oil prices surge.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): I don’t want U.S. dollars to be funding this carnage.
BREAM: Setting up a showdown with the White House.
REPORTER: As long as we’re buying Russian oil, though, aren’t we financing the war?
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, Jacqui, again, it’s only about 10 percent of what we are importing.
BREAM: We’ll Chris Murphy, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Joni Ernst, a member of the Armed Services Committee, about this nation’s role in the escalating war.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let’s stop seeing each other as enemies and start seeing each other for who we are — fellow Americans.
BREAM: President Biden’s first State of the Union seeks to find common grounds, but party disunity on both sides is on full display.
We’ll ask our Sunday panel what election year divisions mean for the midterms.
All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday”.
BREAM (on camera): Hello again from FOX News in Washington.
You are looking live at Kyiv where Ukrainians face increasingly grim conditions and the gathering threat from approaching columns of Russian troops to the south. Ukrainian officials wait to see if safe passage corridors meant to get civilians out of harm’s way would hold after temporary cease-fire collapsed Saturday.
All while Vladimir Putin signals he has no intention of stopping his campaign, calling sanctions by the West tantamount to, quote, declaring war.
In a moment, we’ll speak with the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova.
But we begin with Team FOX coverage, Jonathan Hunt in Lviv, Ukraine, with the latest on how the tempering ceasefire is holding. Trey Yingst in Kyiv, with the latest on the frontlines.
First, let’s turn to Alex Hoff, traveling with the president in Delaware with U.S. response — Alex.
ALEXANDRIA HOFF, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Shannon, last night, President Biden spoke with President Zelensky for about 45 minutes. The discussion included plans to send for economic and humanitarian aid. And this call followed an emotional video called that Zelenskyy held with U.S. lawmakers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I’ve been on a lot of zoom calls, this is one I will never forget.
HOFF (on camera): In a virtual call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, members of Congress heard pleas for ammunition and a call to ban Russian oil imports, an idea with bipartisan support.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Energy has been weaponized and we have the ability to basically counter that weapon.
HOFF: Zelenskyy also pressed lawmakers for U.S. help in Poland’s effort to send Soviet-era MiG jets to Ukraine’s air force. The U.S. is exploring a three-way deal to make that happen.
Hours later, Visa and MasterCard suspended operations in Russia at Zelenskyy’s request.
Visa’s chairman and CEO wrote: This war and the ongoing threat to peace and disability demand we respond in line with our values.
But U.S. and world leaders remain largely opposed to Zelenskyy’s request to establish a no-fly zone.
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: That could lead to a full-fledged war in Europe. President Biden has been clear that we are not going to get into a war with Russia.
HOFF: Yesterday, a Russian government charter flight landed at Dulles Airport outside of D.C. to retrieve Russian diplomats accused of espionage and now expelled from the U.S.
And now, an American is being held by Russia in a high-profile detention case. WNBA star Brittney Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport after Russian officials say they vape cartridges that contain hashish oil in her luggage. Griner faces ten years in a Russian prison.
HOFF (on camera): Now, Israel’s prime minister, he met in person with Vladimir Putin yesterday. He is the first foreign leader to do so since this invasion began and we are told that President Zelenskyy and the prime minister have now talked three times in the last 24 hours.
And, Shannon, on Wednesday, Vice President Harris is set to travel to Poland and Romania.
BREAM: Alex Hoff reporting from Delaware — Alex, thank you.
Let’s turn now to Trey Yingst in Kyiv — Trey.
TREY YINGST, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Shannon, the Russians and Ukrainians are set to hold a third round of peace talks tomorrow, though a civilian areas here continue to be targeted, the situation on the ground is deteriorating each hour.
YINGST (voice-over): Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko arrives near the front lines in the city of Irpin. He’s here to meet with troops who are helping civilians to escape the war.
PETRO POROSHENKO, FORMER PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: We are here now to evacuate children, to evacuate women, to save their lives from the Russian maniac Putin.
YINGST: As Russian forces advance on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, thousands of civilians are fleeing their homes. The front lines here are changing by the hour, you can see a bombed out bridge behind me and we hear artillery in the distance.
Similar artillery struck residential areas across Ukraine this week, killing dozens and destroying civilian homes. Russian forces are now in control of the Zaporizhzhia power plant after a fierce battle for the facility last week. The U.S. embassy in Ukraine called the Russian offensive at the plant a war crime.
Despite many territorial losses, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy released a new video Saturday night urging his citizens to keep fighting the Russian invasion.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Do not give up, do not stop the resistance. They shout to the occupiers go home, go home like your Russian ship.
They drive them away from our territory. They blocked the roads for them. Every meter of Ukrainian land won by protest and humiliation of the invaders as a step forward, a step towards victory for our entire state.
YINGST (on camera): Russia is cracking down on media related to the war, making it a crime to spread what they call fake news.
In reality, this means journalists could spend up to 15 years in prison simply for covering the story and practicing their craft — Shannon.
BREAM: Trey Yingst reporting from the Ukrainian capital — Trey, thank you very much.
And now to Jonathan Hunt — Jonathan.
JONATHAN HUNT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Shannon, a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Ukraine and it is perhaps nowhere more pronounced right now than in the southern city of Mariupol. Mariupol has been under the most intense bombardment of anywhere in the country for the last few days and we are told that 200,000 civilians are trapped there with little food, little water, and no power.
On Saturday, there was a glimmer of hope with the announcement of a cease- fire and the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to allow those civilians to get out, but the cease-fire collapsed almost as soon as the first of those civilians set out among the supposedly-safe corridor. Ukrainian officials saying Russian forces opened fire and therefore they ordered all of those trying to escape to go back to their homes or whatever is left of their homes.
Another cease-fire was declared for today. That appears to have collapsed too, and those 200,000 civilians remain trapped in the most appalling and terrifying conditions imaginable — Shannon.
BREAM: Yeah, and, Jonathan, Lviv, where you are, that’s become a staging post for all those refugees who are fighting to get out, correct?
HUNT: Yes. Lviv is about 50 miles from the border with Poland. So it’s a first stop for many of those escaping Kyiv and other cities to the east and south. The train station here is packed daily with women and children seeking safety as men are ordered to stay in Ukraine to fight.
And Lviv has not yet been physically touched by this war, but they are preparing. We were out yesterday as own statues in the city were wrapped in plastic and stained glass windows and the churches were boarded up in hopes of protecting them from future Russian bombardment.
That is, of course, Shannon, a futile effort, and will do nothing if and when the Russian shells hit this city. But it is another sign that people here want to do something, anything, to feel they are protecting their beloved Ukraine — Shannon.
BREAM: We can certainly understand that.
Jonathan Hunt reporting from Lviv — Jonathan, thank you.
Joining us now, Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova.
Ambassador, welcome to “FOX News Sunday”.
OKSANA MARKAROVA, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Thank you for having me. Good morning to all.
BREAM: Ambassador, we continue to hear about shelling and attacking on several large and small cities in Ukraine, supplies of food and water in question, power being out and freezing conditions. Doctors Without Borders saying now that some pharmacies are running out of medication.
We know that you are here lobbying Washington for help, things that will help Ukrainian people to hold on.
So, what are you asking for today?
MARKAROVA: Yes. Well, it’s Sunday today, and as millions of Americans getting ready to go to church, millions of Ukrainians cannot get out of shelters and basements and they are shot at.
So, we — today, we woke up here to learn that Russian troops attacked Vinnytsia Airport. It’s a city which is almost in the western Ukraine already. And city of Mariupol, which is the size of Tampa in Florida, is under siege and they again for the second time refused to allow women and children to get out and for the humanitarian goods to get into Mariupol.
Like in many other cities, Kyiv, Kharkiv, everywhere where people are shelled and shot at, but everywhere, Ukrainians are putting resistance because we are fighting for our homes.
So what we need right now is pretty simple. You know, we need as much defensive and offensive — all kinds of weapons — that the U.S. can give to us in order to defend ourselves, especially with regard to air defense and airplanes.
We need much tougher sanctions on Russia. You know, it’s 11th day now. We are thankful for the sanctions that have been implemented by the United States, but as the allies, but since Russia is not changing their behavior, they’re escalating actually. They’re killing us more and more. The sanctions should toughen up.
So, we are asking for full embargo on oil and gas, for everything. This is a terrorist state and we should treat Russia as terrorist state.
And, of course, we are also asking to protect the civilians. That’s why we need all the support that, you know, as NATO allies, or individual countries can provide to us.
BREAM: I know that every Ukrainian official I’ve talked within the last couple of weeks and your president continues to call for a no-fly zone. The Biden administration, NATO officials have said that’s just not a possibility.
Here’s Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby explaining that position.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We can all understand that escalating the conflict to that degree with U.S. pilots and Russian pilots in the air in combat only escalates the war itself, only makes it more dangerous, only makes it more treacherous for the Ukrainian people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: NATO secretary general says this: If we did that, we’ll end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe involving many more countries and causing much more human suffering.
Do you disagree with their risk analysis, Ambassador?
MARKAROVA: Well, let’s all remember that Ukraine did nothing to provoke this attack. We — Ukraine was always and is a peaceful country. We never attacked Russia, we’re no threat to Russia unless being a democracy and living peacefully in your own country is a threat.
And even though we didn’t threat anyone, Russia attacked us in 2014, and Russia brutally attacks us for the past 11 days.
So if the situation, you know, happened to Ukraine, who is safe? What democracy can feel safe right now?
So I think, you know, the events of the past 11 days clearly shows that we have to act together, and that Russia can attack anyone being totally unprovoked like they did with Ukraine. So, it’s time for all of us to step up.
BREAM: You talk about acting together. Congressman Adam Smith here raising questions a few days ago about whether or not the U.S. is effectively sharing intelligence in time, in real time with the Ukrainians. The White House has pressed back on that a little bit.
Are you prepared to say that Ukrainian officials are satisfied with the level of intelligence-sharing at this point?
MARKAROVA: You have to understand, we are in active war, so I will not be disclosing a lot of information. But I have to say that, you know, you didn’t hear me asking anything on that front. The cooperation between us and the United States is very deep and very comprehensive.
So what we need right now is more supplies and anti-air.
BREAM: We know that the peace talks again between Ukraine and Russia are supposed to retake their shape on Monday if the Russians are willing to come back to the table. It sounds like Ukraine is planning for that.
But I know what you’ve asked for, what President Zelenskyy has asked for is a cease-fire and the safe corridors for humans to be able to evacuate and escape the areas that are being shelled.
It doesn’t look like Russia is adhering to either of those requests. Are these talks worth the time? Do you trust the Russians to engage in good faith?
MARKAROVA: Well, clearly, the situation — and we see that we cannot trust them. I mean, they are attacking us at the moment. They are killing our civilians. They are bombing our cities. They are committing war crimes in Ukraine.
At the same time, our president said numerous times that he’s always ready for peace talks because he values, and he would like to save every Ukrainian life possible.
So we will respond to any peace talks, we will go and try to reach whatever we can reach, but we have to also see that after the previous peace talks, we agreed on some of the humanitarian corridors, so we tried twice about the city of Mariupol.
And instead of humanitarian corridors, Russians again shelled Mariupol with bombs (ph). So we, you know — but we will — but we will keep trying.
BREAM: Much of what’s happening is raising this issue of specter of war crimes. You say Ukraine is collecting evidence. They’re putting this together, hoping to make a case for war crimes.
Here’s what our president, President Biden, said on that just days ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you believe Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are following it very closely. It’s early to say that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: It’s a little tough to hear him but he says we’re following it closely. It’s too early to say that at this point.
What is your response to the president?
MARKAROVA: Well, we work very closely with our American colleagues and friends on that issue as well. So, it’s — right now, you know, our prosecutor general has put a task force and we’re working together with a number of friends and allies and we’re putting it all together.
It’s evidence, clear to us, that what they are doing is illegal and it’s war crimes. I mean, they are targeting hospitals. They’re targeting schools. They’re targeting civilians.
They are doing everything possible you can imagine illegal during the war. But — and the whole war is totally unjustified, unprovoked, ungrounded.
So, we will — but we have very good cooperation with our partners here in the U.S., in the government, on this issue as well.
BREAM: Ambassador, much has been made in speculation about the state of mind of Vladimir Putin. Is he a man with nothing to lose at this point?
You know, after speaking with him, French President Emmanuel Macron seem to suggest a very grim diagnosis in that he believes Putin will do whatever he has to do to try to subdue Ukraine.
What are your thoughts?
MARKAROVA: We have known that in Ukraine since 1991, when we regained our independence that Russia will do everything possible in their imperial kind of thinking to get Ukraine back. This is nothing new to us. We live with us for the past 400 years.
So they attacked us. They always supported the pro-Russian government. They tried to install them in Ukraine previously.
That’s why we had two revolutions of dignity — of Orange Revolution and Revolution of Dignity. When people of Ukraine, because we are a democracy, essentially said no, we want to be free. We want to be European. We want to live like we want to live.
That’s why they attacked us militarily in 2014. That’s why they illegally grabbed Crimea and part of Donetsk and Luhansk. And that’s why they are killing us now or trying to kill. And they’re trying to attack us.
So, you know, it’s — it’s not about Ukraine or it’s not only about Ukraine. And it’s not even about Putin’s state of mind. You know, I think the focus right now should be, what do we do to stop him? Because unfortunately every large war in the past started locally, and we know from the past that all of them could have been stopped locally.
So it’s time for all democratic civilized world, who together with us, stand together with us today, act together with us.
BREAM: Ambassador, you began by mentioning people heading to church across America. We know in houses of worship everywhere across this country, they’ll be praying for you and your country today. Thank you for taking time to speak with us with — during such a difficult time, Ambassador.
MARKAROVA: Thank you very much. Thank you, Shannon.
BREAM: Up next, Senator Chris Murphy on the U.S. response to the war on Ukraine.
BREAM: Joining us here in Washington, Senator Chris Murphy, who’s made a number of trips to Ukraine and also a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, welcome back to “FOX News Sunday”.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Thank you for having me.
BREAM: Any reaction to our discussion with the ambassador?
MURPHY: Well, this is an extraordinary moment in Ukraine. We’re grateful for her service. And she’s right, this is a moment where the entire world has to step up and do even more to help Ukraine.
My belief is that next week, Congress is going to pass an emergency funding bill for Ukraine, putting $10 billion into both additional defensive equipment for Ukraine, but also humanitarian assistance to get civilians out. My hope is that the Europeans will do more as well.
So she has been heroic, as has been her president, been glad to meet with her several times over the past few weeks to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to step up for the Ukrainian people.
BREAM: You know what, both she and President Zelenskyy — and I understand you were on the call with him yesterday. What they want is a no-fly zone.
Here’s one of his impassioned pleas about that this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I said if you cannot shut the sky now, then give us the timeline, when will you do it? If you now cannot provide the timeline, tell us how many people have to die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: You had a tweet this week said: Let’s just be clear what that is. The U.S. and Russia are at war. It’s a bad idea and Congress would never authorize it.
Is there any point at which your calculation on that would change?
MURPHY: No. I think we need to be clear that we are not going to go to war with Russia. That would be the beginning of World War III, would drag all of Europe into a much broader war.
But if I were President Zelenskyy, I would be asking for a no-fly zone.
The problem is there is no such thing as a no-fly zone over Ukraine. If the United States put planes in the air, we would immediately be shooting at Russian planes. They would be shooting at us. We would be at war, and soon, Russia would likely be able to move into Ukraine their own air defense systems being able to shoot missiles at pilots who are flying above.
So, I get why President Zelenskyy is pressing on a no-fly zone and I think we should answer many of his other calls for additional defensive equipment, for more humanitarian assistance. I don’t think it’s in our interest, the interest of Europe, to have United States and Russia — the two world’s biggest, most-equipped nuclear superpowers — going to war directly against each other.
BREAM: President Zelenskyy has been warning about Vladimir Putin for a long time and Putin himself has been made a lot of public statements telegraphing what his intentions were.
“The Wall Street Journal” editorial board puts it this way: Anyone purporting to be shocked by Mr. Putin’s actions in Ukraine shouldn’t be. He told the world what he was going to do. This experience should ring alarms concerning the rest of the world’s autocrats. What have they been telling us that they’ve convinced ourselves couldn’t possibly mean?
Has the West in some respects been asleep at the wheel?
MURPHY: Listen, I think Putin has made it absolutely clear that he wanted to reconstitute the former Soviet Union. And so, I think you have to take him at his word and understand that this might not be the end for Vladimir Putin.
It used to be that we thought it was impossible that Putin would march an army into a NATO country. I don’t think we can take that for granted any longer, which is why the American public are going to have to be comfortable with additional amounts of U.S. troops going to protect the eastern flank of NATO.
Similarly, we have to listen to President Xi, who has acted in a way over the course of the last several years as if he is going to do the same thing with respect to Taiwan. We have a policy of strategic ambiguity about what our defense relationship is with Taiwan. We are likely going to have to make a clear decision about whether the United States is willing to step in and protect Taiwan.
If we are, that involves a much more significant commitment than we have made already.
BREAM: So, we’ve been clear about some of the things we are not willing to and for good reason, not going to do and getting involved with Ukraine. But now, there are things domestically that we’re talking about. So, there’s this bipartisan bill that’s talking about banning import of Russian energy products.
I think the number two Democrat, Dick Durbin, in the Senate, has now joined on to this.
The White House has pushed back on this idea but one of the co-sponsors, Republican Lisa Murkowski, has said it’s a moral obligation. She said — and we played this earlier in the show — I don’t want U.S. dollars to be funding this carnage in Ukraine.
So, do you think this bill goes anywhere? Would you support it? And if so, how would you convince the president to get on board?
MURPHY: I think the White House is open to this ideal. They just want to make sure that it’s done in no way that doesn’t dramatically increase prices for American consumers. You know, if the price of a barrel of oil goes to $150 because we ban Russian imports, you and I can deal with that, but there are a lot of low income consumers who would be hurt.
Similarly, President Biden has made it really clear that the best policies for the U.S. and Europe to act together, right? Russian imports into the United States are relatively meager, but if United States did this together with Europe, that would have a significant impact.
So a lot of people wanted President Biden to rush out economic sanctions on Russia without Europe. He was right to wait to do it together with Europe. So, on this one, I think the White House is just trying to make sure that we mitigate any impact on lower income Americans and that we try to bring Europe along to the extent possible to make the impact as big as possible.
But the short of it is yes, I would absolutely support cutting off Russian oil to the United States. I just would much rather do it with the Europeans.
BREAM: So, they obviously have a dependence on that oil that is — they would have to replace in some part. We’re talking about that here in the U.S. as well.
So, Senator Joe Manchin has talked about that essentially, this has been weaponized, the idea of oil. And he says we have to look at what we can do more of in the U.S.
Here’s a bit of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We have to go forward with our climate — with our climate solutions. I’m all for that, I’ve always been all for that. That’s all (ph) policy. I’m not going to throw one out the window for the other. We need a horsepower to run a country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: So, even Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, who said this wouldn’t be in his interest, he said I hate to say but we need to increase oil and gas output immediately. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures.
He says not great for Tesla but we have to do what we have to do at this moment in history.
Would you agree?
MURPHY: So, you have, you know, hundreds if not thousands of wells that are not producing in the United States right now because — over the course of the pandemic, production was down and prices weren’t high enough. If prices go up, then you’re naturally, through the market mechanisms, going to have more U.S. production.
Joe Manchin represents a coal state. I represent a state that’s going to have a lot of wind power online very soon. And so, you know, my preference would be to try to fill in that gap with renewable energy.
But I think the reality is if Europe decides to take a tough stand against Russian gas and oil, there’s no way to not have some of that filled in with U.S. natural resource production. LNG in particular, natural gas that we produce here in the United States and shipped to Europe is likely going to have to be part of the solution.
I would just want to make sure that in the United States, if we’re going to have to fill in what we lose in Russian gas that’s not just from West Virginia coal, that’s also from Long Island sound wind power.
BREAM: And very quickly before we go, the Iran nuclear deal, there are discussions again at the table. And, of course, Iran’s oil supply is part of this conversation too.
Russia is at the table at a time where we’re trying to make them a pariah on the world stage.
Should they have that seat of power at this moment?
MURPHY: Well, Russia has a relationship with Iran. Iran listens to Russia. Ultimately, we have relied on Russia to take some of the nuclear material as part of these arrangements.
So, it’s unlikely you can do a deal without Russia being at the table, but if you got the classified briefings that I’ve gotten about how close Iran is to a nuclear weapon right now, you would agree that we cannot leave a good deal on the table. If there is an agreement to be had that allows inspectors back in, that stops Iran’s research program, we should take it, because the alternative is disastrous for the region. Not just Iran becoming weeks away from getting a weapon, but the Saudis, the Emiratis, everyone else deciding that now is the time to pursue their own nuclear weapon.
A nuclear Middle East would be a disaster for the world and for the United States. So I’m hopeful that we’re going to get an agreement soon.
BREAM: There are certainly double in the details, a lot of challenges still to get that done if it is to proceed.
Senator, thank you for your time. Good to have you in today.
MURPHY: Thank you.
BREAM: Up next, we are going to get reaction from Senator Joni Ernst, member of the Armed Services Committee. A vet herself.
And we’ll bring in our Sunday group on Ukraine, the Supreme Courts and the rapidly changing politics of Covid mandates.
BREAM: Welcome back to FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
Let’s turn now o Senator Joni Ernst in Iowa, member of the Armed Services Committee. A veteran.
Senator, welcome back to FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): Yes, thank you so much, Shannon.
BREAM: I’m hoping you heard part of our conversations with the ambassador and also with Senator Murphy.
Any reaction from you?
ERNST: Yes. Well, Ambassador Markarova is doing a phenomenal job working with the United States Congress and our administration. And certainly Senator Murphy has been a great partner. This is where you see Republicans and Democrats coming together to aid Ukraine. And, of course, to provide stability for Europe. This is an important time in our history, and we absolutely must do what we can to protect Ukrainians.
BREAM: Senator, you were the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate. You sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee. What’s your position on the request for a no-fly zone?
ERNST: Well, I do agree with Senator Chris Murphy. I think that we cannot engage with Russians. And I am thankful that President Zelenskyy is stepping up and making all kinds of requests. That’s what he should do as the president of Ukraine. However, we do not want to engage directly with Russians. And, as he stated, it would be World War III. And I don’t think that’s in the best interest of NATO, our partners and allies and friends.
But what we can do is provide all the defensive mechanisms for President Zelenskyy and his armed services to provide their own protected airspace. And that starts, of course, with providing air platforms to President Zelenskyy, making sure that those pilots are able to protect their own airspace.
BREAM: You have written in an op-ed on foxnews.com about this conflict, and you note the 1994 Budapest memo in which Ukraine gave up its nukes in assurance in return from a number of, you know, the U.K., the U.S., Russia itself, that they would have sovereignty and territorial integrity. So, obviously, Putin is not playing by these rules, from that or many other agreements at this point, and yet the rest of the world is trying to play by the rules.
How do we engage this level of warfare with him where he’s clearly not willing to abide by norms?
ERNST: Yes, President Putin has just taken these agreements and they’re basically no more than pieces of paper to him. However, we do need to abide by these agreements. But, in the meantime, we need to make sure that we’re reinforcing Ukraine and providing as much lethal aid as possible. We do know that the burn rate for lethal aid that we’ve sent into Ukraine has gone up as the Russians have changed their strategy both in the air and on the ground, so reinforcing that will be extremely important.
But also humanitarian aid, making sure that we are able to provide for those refugees that will be flowing into Europe. I understand there’s over a million and a half displaced people now. So, again, helping our Polish friends, anyone in those other countries that need assistance. So there’s a lot that we can do. But, you’re right, these agreements, they need to mean something. But to Vladimir Putin, again, they’re just pieces of paper.
BREAM: I talked with the ambassador earlier about the fact that Ukraine is trying to document evidence of war crimes. Our own Secretary of State Blinken has said this morning that there’s, quote, very credible evidence of war crimes. Does that change the calculus for you at all on a no-fly zone or any of the other ways in which the U.S. is engaged?
ERNST: Not at this point, no. Again, once we engage with Russians directly, that does involve all of our NATO partners as well. This gives Russia the opportunity then to attack not only the United States, but also others in Europe. And it’s a very tenuous situation as we sit today. We certainly don’t want to see it deteriorate any further.
However, there need to be very stiff push backs on Vladimir Putin, the oligarchs in — on Russia because of this action that they have taken against Ukraine. We cannot allow this to go unchecked now or in the future.
BREAM: I talked with Senator Murphy about this bipartisan bill that’s gaining support on the Senate side banning Russian imports, energy imports into the U.S. The White House has expressed some concern about that, has pushed back. They’re worried about soaring gas prices among, you know, the bad news that we’re getting about inflation and other economic indicators. Here’s what White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on that front.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our objective here and our focus is making sure that any step we take maximizes the impact on President Putin and minimizes it on the American people. And anyone who’s calling for an end to the carve out should be clear that that would raise prices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: And indeed, Senator, this morning we’re getting a report that the national average has topped $4 a gallon now. That’s only the second time that’s happened in history. So, do you get her point?
ERNST: I understand that point. However, what we have seen in this administration is the shutdown of American energy independence. And in last year alone we were importing Russian oil, 672,000 barrels a day. We have become much more reliant upon Russia and President Putin instead of providing jobs and energy security right here on the homeland. So, I recognize that we are in a difficult position, but his choices, the administration’s choices, when he first came into office, put us in this tenuous position with energy independence in the United States. Instead of being an exporter of energy, we became a consumer of Russian oil.
This needs to stop. I would much rather ramp up American energy production here in the United States than provide dollars to Russia and to President Putin to fund the war machine that is killing innocent civilians in Ukraine.
BREAM: Senator, I want to quickly ask you a little — about a little bit of family business. There’s been some debate within the party. Republican Senator Rick Scott put out an 11-point plan. It would ask every American to pay at least a little income tax in order to, quote, have skin in the game. He even put out an op-ed about this. It’s “Why I’m Defying Beltway Cowardice.” He says, if we have no bigger plan than to be a speed bump on the road to socialism, we don’t deserve to govern. Most Republicans in Congress agree, but many live in fear of speaking the truth in Washington, which we all know can be a bit dangerous. That’s my ad there.
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says, not going to raise taxes. What’s the conversation now between these two and internally, the party?
ERNST: Well, certainly that’s up for Leader McConnell and Senator Scott to figure out. I am very focused on representing my constituencies here in Iowa and making sure that they have a voice at the table. I think every Republican, as we step forward, will determine what is in the best interest for their own party dynamics within their states and defending what we believe to be true, liberty, freedom, you name it, that’s what we are for. We want to see prosperity in the United States, and each of us have a very important role and voice no matter where we are.
BREAM: Senator Ernst, thank you very much. Always great to talk with you.
ERNST: Yes, thanks so much, Shannon.
BREAM: All right, it is time now for our Sunday group.
Jonathan Swan, national political correspondent for “Axios.” Catherine Lucey, who covers the White House for “The Wall Street Journal.” Mo Elleithee of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service. And Katie Pavlich, editor of “Town Hall.”
And I’ve got to say, it’s great to see all of you in person.
CATHERINE LUCEY, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Yes, indeed.
BREAM: Catherine, I’ll start with you.
You know, there’s this conversation, and you’ve heard it from these senators this morning, about banning energy imports from Russia. The White House has seemed resistant to that idea. Do you think, as calls grow and the pressure on her own energy system here in America, we see these prices going up, that they’ll maybe change their minds?
LUCEY: Well, certainly, I think you saw it just play out in the show. We’re really seeing a, you know, bipartisan conversation about this. Both senators said this was something that, you know, was being looked at. And the White House has indicated to us that they are looking at all the options. The president said this week that nothing was off the table. So, I think this conversation is going to continue.
One of the things, though, that they are trying to balance, as you said, is this issue around inflation and gas prices. And the president is very aware of how this is impacting Americans, prices at the pump. You heard him talk about that at the State of the Union, that that’s a real anxiety for him.
BREAM: And that’s not a headache they need right now with everything on their plate over there at the White House.
OK, Mo, this issue of nuclear weapons, Ukraine giving theirs up under the Budapest memo back to ’94 and finding themselves in this place. “The Wall Street Journal” opinion piece says this, many countries, including maline actions watching Russian’s actions will inevitably now seek their own nukes. Vladimir Putin is demonstrating that these weapons give an aggressor license to attack and without them a peaceful nation is at the aggressor’s mercy.
You heard Senator Murphy talk about this. Like, everybody’s going to want their own nukes now.
MO ELLEITHEE, GEORGETOWN INSTITUTE OF POLITICS AND PUBLIC SERVICE, FORMER DNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: No, I — look, the world is watching, right? China is watching. Their authoritarian regimes are watching. And how the United States and NATO are able to contain this is going to be critical. The last thing we need is for Putin to get everything he wants in Ukraine and for Xi to then say, OK, I now have my road map in Taiwan and elsewhere.
But it’s delicate, right? I mean you heard both senators say the same thing, that if we start to take a more aggressive posture militarily, we are inviting an open conflict with a nuclear state. We don’t want to give them license or give other authoritarian regimes license to go ahead and pursue nuclear weapons. But, at the same time, we don’t want to invite that conflict now.
So, it’s a really tricky place that they’re at.
BREAM: Yes. And as we’ve all discussed, I mean this goes far beyond just Ukraine and Russia. President Xi is washing this. Malign actors around the world are watching.
And that gets to another piece in “The Wall Street Journal” said, Mr. Putin and no doubt China’s Xi Jinping saw the west on the brink of political and moral decadence. Counties whose leadership allowed marginal issues, such as windmills and gender complicity to displace natural self-preservation. Do nothing, and disorder descends.
KATIE PAVLICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND TOWNHALL.COM EDITOR: Well, as the world watches, something that has been kind of pushed to the side in terms of the headlines is the negotiations over the Iran nuclear agreement and Russia is at the table with that and now we’re hearing and reporting in “The Wall Street Journal” that Russia is now demanding that the new Ukrainian sanctions do not impact their ability to trade with Tehran. So that, of course, throws another wrench into the situation.
The White House has been saying on one hand that we don’t need to sanction Russian oil because it’s a very small fraction of what we import here in the country. On the other hand, they’re also saying that Americans need to brace or have higher gas prices as a result of this. So, they’re trying to play that both ways. But, overall, they’re not treating domestic energy production through oil and gas as a national security issue.
Jen Psaki was asked about the Keystone Pipeline, how that was put off a year ago, and her response was that it would take too long to get the pipeline back online, and therefore it wasn’t an immediate solution. Well, it might not be an immediate solution, but it is a long-term national security solution for the United States to be domestically energy independent. We’re also seeing now that the State Department is sending officials to Venezuela to try and negotiate getting the gap filled in terms of oil with the Venezuelans. We saw Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, this week saying Iranian oil is on the table. So, there is this question of, the administration doesn’t want to ramp up domestic production, but they’re willing to get oil from adversaries. And you combine that with the negotiations with the Iran nuclear deal and things get quite completed.
BREAM: Yes, and, Jonathan, to the point about Secretary Buttigieg, I mean he said this week something to the effect of, we can’t be chasing permanent solutions to these short-term problems. And so for a lot of people that sparks the question, well, why don’t we want a permanent solution so we don’t — the world find itself in this position again?
JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, this — this just happened on multiple fronts where the climate agenda runs into another agenda. In this — in this instance it’s a national security agenda.
I’m old enough to remember a year ago, I went to Kyiv. I interviewed President Zelenskyy. I interviewed him again in the spring. He was pleading with the United States and the Germans to shut down the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline. I’m old enough to remember being told by the U.S. and the Germans it couldn’t be done, that it was already completed, that it was essential so that the U.S. and the Germans could cooperate on climate change. And we’ve learned in the last two weeks, oh, actually, it could be done. And you make choices. And these are competing priorities running headlong into each other.
I will say, I’ve been stunned at how European foreign policy has done a complete 180 in the last three weeks. If you told me that Germany had done all the things it’s done, I would have said you were smoking whatever that hashish (ph) was that that basketball player — poor basketball player is being caught with.
BREAM: Something maybe a little stronger.
SWAN: Something stronger than that. So, they have moved, but, again, there is still this entrenched priority that they’re running up against.
BREAM: When we find ourselves at these moments in history, things become much more clear.
OK, panel, we’ve got to take a break.
When we come back, more with our Sunday group on the president and his State of the Union reset.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Covid-19 no longer need control our lives.
If we are to advance liberty and justice, we need to secure our border and fix the immigration system.
The answer is not to defund the police, it’s to fund the police.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: President Biden signaling a shift back towards the center during his State of the Union Address.
We are back now with the panel.
All right, Jonathan, a lot of what he said seemed to be pushing back on sort of some of the GOP criticisms and talking points against the Democrats. So, who was that message to? Was that to Democrats, Republicans, voters?
SWAN: It’s to the independent voters who have abandoned him in numbers that no one could have believed at the start of his presidency. And they’re looking for — the Biden team is looking for moments this year, opportunities to not just contrast himself with Republicans, but to contrast himself with the left flank of his own party.
And one of the issues they’ve identified his crime. You’re going to see Joe Biden, over the next few months, at — at — when the moments arise, you know, try to embrace figures like Eric Adams in New York and some of the tougher on crime figures, and to really try and distance himself from “the squad” and the left flank of the party.
Immigration surprised me because that’s one issue they want to bury deep under the soil. I don’t expect him to be talking much about immigration this year. They see that as a total loser for them. But you’ll certainly see it on crime.
BREAM: Yes, but he brought up immigration. And there was this huge bipartisan response to it. Like, yes, let’s get something done. So, I mean, there’s certainly — at least they talk about it. Whether anything ever gets into legislative, you know, nuts and bolts, like, that is not going to happen.
SWAN: Well, that’s not going to happen. Let’s be clear about that. Yes. Yes.
BREAM: But, Katie, he got — he’s gotten a bump in the polls post-State of the Union. His approval on things like handling Ukraine is way up. So he’s had a good week when it comes to the numbers.
PAVLICH: He’s had a good week. We’ll see if that can be sustained. He did bring up the issue of immigration. But policy changes are what are needed to actually sustain that bump in approval. For example, Title 42 is about to be repealed, which means that the crush at the border will be increasingly worse than it is already with record numbers of people, 200,000 people coming over every single month. You have Secretary Mayorkas having problems internally with border patrol, feeling like their mission is lost as a result of the policies that have been implemented. And I think the administration, on the crime issue, is looking around the country and seeing these radical leftists DAs being recalled and then applying that to the situation with the midterm elections coming up and looking at what issues that, again, independents really care about and issues that affect everybody. Crime is not something that affects one group of people. In fact, it affects the demographic that Democrats claim to care about the most.
BREAM: And, listen, there is troubling polling, Mo, for the Democrats going into those midterms that Katie mentioned. This new ABC News/”Washington Post” poll asked, would you rather see the next Congress controlled by the Republicans to act as a check on Biden, or controlled by the Democrats to support Biden’s agenda. And Republicans lead that by ten points.
ELLEITHEE: Yes, that’s not good for Democrats.
ELLEITHEE: And, you know, we see numbers like that and it usually foreshadows a big wave election in a midterm.
But, you know, I think things are — there are still a couple of triple bank shots Democrats could make to mitigate some of the expected losses. And some of it is within their control, some of it is not. The speech by the president the other night was an important step in that. And here’s the thing, it wasn’t a reorientation I think of Joe Biden, this was the Joe Biden we heard going back to the Democratic primaries back in 2019 and 2020. Remember, he defeated candidates within the Democratic primary who were further to the left with this message. So — and the democratic Party and its voters embraced him, So I think what he was doing was helping, you know, those voters that Jonathan was talking about remember why they voted for him in the first place. And I think it was him sort of reorienting the public perception of the Democratic Party, which, for many months now has been defined by a fight between the left and Joe Manchin, you know, and Kyrsten Sinema — Kyrsten Sinema over the Build Back Better, right? That was what was defining the Democrat Party in the eyes of many voters. And I think Biden said, let me remind you what you got when you voted for me.
BREAM: Well, that version of him, though, disappeared for about a year. So, I guess maybe it’s back now to say that he (INAUDIBLE).
ELLEITHEE: I think he’s sort of reasserting control of the messaging.
BREAM: OK. Now, we talked with Senator Ernst, and she was very diplomatic, Catherine, in her answer about this little bit of an internal issue over on the Senate side between Republicans. So, we talked about what — what Senator Scott, who heads up the NRSC, the body that’s got to be trying to elect Republicans to the Senate, said about this. Here is the Senate minority leader’s response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): And let me tell you what would not be a part of our agenda. We will not have, as part of our agenda, a bill that raises taxes on half the American people, and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years. That will not be part of a Republican Senate majority agenda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: OK, so, Catherine, quick response from you on that. Do Republicans snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at this point?
LUCEY: Yes, I mean, the real — the real thing here is the context, right, which is, as we just talked about, the fact that Republicans are going into midterms that they feel pretty good about. There’s a lot of strong indicators for them. Their candidates are feeling pretty optimistic. And Senator McConnell definitely does not want the distraction of a conversation about taxes and Rick Scott’s plan.
BREAM: Yes, they’d probably like to keep in on immigration and crime.
All right, thank you very much, panel. We’ll see you next Sunday.
Up next, a final word on the week ahead.
BREAM: That’s it for today. I’m Shannon Bream. Keep it tuned to your local Fox station and to Fox News Channel for the latest developments in the war on Ukraine.
I’ll see you tomorrow and every weeknight for “FOX NEWS @ NIGHT,” 12:00 a.m. Eastern on Fox News Channel.
Have a great week. We’ll see you next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
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