Blinken says U.S. looking to help supply fighter jets to Ukraine, considers banning Russian oil imports

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba are pictured meeting in Korczowa, Poland, at the Ukrainian-Polish border crossing, on Saturday. Photo by U.S. Department of State/UPI
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba are pictured meeting in Korczowa, Poland, at the Ukrainian-Polish border crossing, on Saturday. Photo by U.S. Department of State/UPI | License Photo

March 6 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the United States is looking at helping supply fighter jets to Ukraine and may consider banning Russian oil imports.

Blinken, speaking to several outlets during a Sunday morning press blitz, said that the United States was looking to provide Poland with F-16 fighter jets to backfill any planes they provide to Ukraine.


His comments come after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeatedly pleaded for a supply of military aircraft in the absence of a no-fly zone as Ukrainians defend themselves from aerial assaults amid Russia's invasion of the sovereign nation.

"We are working with Poland as we speak to see if we can backfill anything that they provide to the Ukrainians. We very much support them, providing MiGs, SUs, planes that Ukrainian can fly, to the Ukrainians," Blinken said in an interview transcript with CNN.


"We also want to see if we can be helpful, as I said, in making sure that whatever they provide to the Ukrainians, something goes to them to make up for any gap in the security for Poland that might result. We're actively talking about that right now."

Blinken added in an interview transcript with NBC that the decision to send planes to Ukraine is not a NATO decision, but "a sovereign decision by Poland."

"If they choose to do it, we want to make sure that we can help them and, again, backfill what they're giving so that they don't have any loss in their own ability to provide security," Blinken said.

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In an interview with CBS News, Blinken said that any NATO country that wishes to send aircraft to Ukraine "gets a green light."

Blinken added in comments to CBS News that the Ukrainian government has put a plan in place to continue the leadership of the nation if Zelensky were to be killed by Russian forces.

"The Ukrainians have plans in place that I'm not going to talk about or get into any details on to make sure that there is what we would call continuity of government one way or another. And let me leave it at that," Blinken said.


The top diplomat also addressed the possibility of banning Russian oil imports during his Sunday interviews, telling CNN that it was a "very active discussion as we speak."

"When it comes to oil, Russian oil, I was on the phone yesterday with [President Joe Biden] and other members of the cabinet on exactly this subject," Blinken said. "We are now talking to our European partners and allies to look in a coordinated way at the prospect of banning the import of Russian oil while making sure that there is still an appropriate supply of oil on world markets."

Zelensky, who met with members of the U.S. Congress on Saturday, asked lawmakers to stop buying Russian oil which would be "even more powerful than" blocking Russia from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

After the meeting, both Republicans and Democrats urged the Biden administration to consider banning Russian oil imports.

Blinken stressed in his interview with NBC News that the banning of Russian oil would not be done unilaterally by the United States, but in coordination with European allies.

"A hallmark of everything we've done to date has been this coordination with allies and partners. We are much more effective across the board when we're doing things together in as close coordination as possible," Blinken said. "There are instances where we each do something a little bit different, but it complements the whole."


On Sunday, American Express joined Visa and MasterCard in suspending all operations in Russia amid the invasion. The company said it would also suspend operations in Belarus, which has supported Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.

"In light of Russia's ongoing, unjustified attack on the people of Ukraine, I want to update you on the actions we have taken to support our colleagues and customers in the region and provide humanitarian aid to those suffering the effects of this terrible war, CEO Stephen Squeri said in a statement.

Squeri said that all of its cards issued globally will no longer work at merchants or ATMs in Russia. Cards issued in Russia by Russian banks will work locally but cannot be used outside of Russia.

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, said Sunday that it would suspend live streaming and new content from Russia as it reviews a new law in Russia preventing people from speaking out against the government.

"In light of Russia's new 'fake news' law, we have no choice but to suspend live streaming and new content to our video service while we review the safety implications of this law," the company said in a statement. "Our in-app messaging service will not be affected."


The decision came just one day after the company unveiled new labels for posts made by Russian state-controlled media accounts to combat disinformation about the invasion of Ukraine.

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