A Biden administration official wouldn’t give a straight answer when asked why the U.S. won’t “shoot down” Russian planes that are bombing civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
On Thursday, CNN anchor Jim Sciutto asked State Department spokesman Ned Price to explain why the U.S. won’t take military action against Russia, given that the government considers Russian military strikes against civilian targets like hospitals to be war crimes.
The question came up after Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda Thursday, during which Harris called Russia’s actions “atrocities of unimaginable proportion.”
She also said that Russia “absolutely” should be investigated for war crimes.
Afterwards, Price joined “CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto” to discuss the vice president’s comments, and he was asked if Russia had committed “war crimes.”
“Lamentably, that’s an apt description,” Price said, adding that “we’re working with the international community, each group to create new mechanisms to ensure that we are holding Russia and will hold Russia accountable for any potential war crimes.”
Sciutto then asked why the U.S. won’t take military action and “shoot down” the Russian planes attacking civilians.
“OK, hold them accountable, but not stop them because they’re continuing here. Why won’t the U.S. shoot down the planes that are bombing hospitals?” Sciutto asked.
“Well, Jim, we are providing our Ukrainian partners with what they need to engage in self-defense. And you have seen the effectiveness of that strategy. The Russian war effort really has been stalled,” Price answered, deflecting the question. “President Putin has severely miscalculated if he thought he would roll into Ukraine, not find any resistance. Clearly, he was wrong. We have seen convoys stuck. We’ve seen Russians engaged and stopped really in a morass of their own making.”
“And we’ve done that by providing over the course of the past year, as you heard from the vice president, more than $1 billion in defense of security assistance, more than $250 million in security assistance over the past week alone,” he continued. “And by working with Congress, we’re grateful for Congress’ cooperation. We’ll be able to provide more than $13 billion to our Ukrainian partners, about half of which will be in the form of security assistance.”
Sciutto followed up by asking if President Joe Biden is “in effect giving the Kremlin a veto, veto power over U.S. military options here?”
“Jim, we’ve heard a lot of rhetoric from Moscow. I wouldn’t put stock in Moscow’s rhetoric,” Price said, without giving the obvious response that taking direct military action against Russia, like shooting down planes, would start World War III.