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Minnesota Delegation Split After Zelinskyy's Plea To U.S. Congress

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- When it comes to the war on Ukraine and what America should do in the face of conflict, support in the Minnesota delegation is mixed. Republicans comments were muted, but most Democrats are giving President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy enthusiastic support.

Zelinskyy was hailed by most Democrats in the Minnesota delegation for his heroism.

"I think we were all touched and moved by it," Sen. Tina Smith said. "Zelenskyy made such a powerful plea to members of Congress."

However, Smith and others in the delegation are all saying no to Zelenskyy's call for the U.S. to enforce a no-fly zone, members agreeing with Biden that to do so would lead the U.S. into war with Russia.

"We wish to avoid World War III. As the president noted, anything that is an escalation is a great risk," Smith said.

Minnesota Republicans, and Republicans across the country, were muted in their response.

"What Putin is doing to Ukraine is brutal and unacceptable, and President Biden should show more leadership during this time," Rep. Pete Stauber said.

Professor David Schultz, who has taught in both Ukraine and Russia, says Ukraine, with its entanglement in the Trump impeachment, is an awkward issue for the party.

"The State of the Union speech, Joe Biden got about a 7-point bump in his approval rating by talking about Ukraine. So for them this becomes a difficult issue heading into the 2022 elections," he said.

One note of dissatisfaction from Minnesota Democrats came from Rep. Ilhan Omar, who put out a dissenting message on social media prior to Zelenskyy's speech.

"he difference in the way we are talking about Ukrainian refugees, who are obviously largely white, and the way we talk about black, brown, Muslim refugees from elsewhere, is as clear as day," Omar said.

Omar was one of just 17 members of Congress, and one of only two Democrats, who voted against the ban on Russian oil imports.

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