Amid global calls for focused diplomacy to end the Russian war on Ukraine, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger on Sunday introduced a measure that would give congressional authorization for President Joe Biden to intervene militarily if Russia uses biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons.
The outgoing Republican congressman from Illinois announced the Authorization for Use of Military Force to Defend America’s Allies Resolution of 2022 on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” more than two months after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the long-anticipated invasion.
“I don’t think we need to be using force in Ukraine right now. I just introduced an AUMF, an authorization for the use of military force, giving the president basically congressional leverage or permission to use it if WMDs, nuclear, biological, or chemical are used in Ukraine,” he said on the show, using the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction.
Kinzinger added in a statement that “Putin must be stopped” and Biden, “the commander in chief to the world’s greatest military, should have the authority and means to take the necessary actions to do so.”
The Biden administration has significantly stepped up security aid to Ukraine since February but stopped short of taking any military action, even denying Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s request for a no-fly zone. While sending arms to Ukraine has been met with mixed responses — some anti-war voices warn it just escalates the conflict — peace advocates and foreign policy experts have praised the U.S. president for not getting involved militarily.
“The Biden administration has wisely ruled out such intervention, whether in the form of a ‘no-fly zone’ or some other military operation, recognizing that it would mean a war with Russia that could quite conceivably escalate into nuclear conflict,” George Beebe and Anatol Lieven recently wrote for Responsible Statecraft.
“Crudely put,” they continued, “mounting an intervention meant to save Ukrainians, only to see them and millions of others incinerated in a nuclear holocaust, would hardly amount to sound moral arithmetic.”
Appearing beside Zelenskyy earlier this week, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres pledged to boost humanitarian support in Ukraine and “help find the path of peace.”
“This war must end, and peace must be established, in line [with] the charter of the United Nations and international law. Many leaders have made many good efforts to stop the fighting, though these efforts, so far, have not succeeded,” Guterres said. “I am here to say to you, Mr. President, and to the people of Ukraine: We will not give up.”
In Kyiv on Saturday, Zelenskyy met with a congressional delegation led by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who said in a statement Sunday that the meeting began with the Ukrainian president “thanking the United States for the substantial assistance that we have provided.”
“He conveyed the clear need for continued security, economic, and humanitarian assistance from the United States to address the devastating human toll taken on the Ukrainian people by Putin’s diabolic invasion—and our delegation proudly delivered the message that additional American support is on the way, as we work to transform President Biden’s strong funding request into a legislative package,” she added. “Our delegation conveyed our respect and gratitude to President Zelenskyy for his leadership and our admiration of the Ukrainian people for their courage in the fight against Russia’s oppression.”
Pelosi’s delegation notably includes Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who was famously the only member of Congress to vote against what she has called “an ill-defined and open-ended” AUMF in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. That authorization has been used by multiple administrations to justify “counterterrorism” operations all around the world.