People evacuate from Irpin, Ukraine on Sunday with the help...

People evacuate from Irpin, Ukraine on Sunday with the help of a member of the country's military service after Russian mortar rounds struck the area. Credit: Getty Images / Anastasia Vlasova

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is weighing a plan with Poland to provide Ukraine a supply of Soviet-era fighter planes, and separately, a ban of Russian oil imports, after impassioned pleas by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to American lawmakers.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking to reporters in Chisinau, Moldova, on Sunday, said the United States is "looking actively now at the question of airplanes that Poland may provide to Ukraine and looking at how we might be able to backfill should Poland decide to supply those planes."

"I can’t speak to a timeline but I can just say we’re looking at it very, very actively," Blinken said.

Appearing on CNN’s "State of the Union," Blinken also confirmed that the United States is "now in very active discussions with our European partners about banning the import of Russian oil to our countries."

Zelenskyy, in a conference call with more than 300 members of Congress on Saturday, requested assistance in allowing Ukrainian fighter pilots to fly some of Poland's Soviet-era warplanes, and also urged the United States and its allies to stop purchasing gas and oil from Russia. President Vladimir Putin's full-scale military invasion entered its third week Sunday.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling for the federal government to help transfer fighter jets and provide more humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Credit: Corey Sipkin

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who was on the call with Zelenskyy, urged the Biden administration on Sunday to "explore all feasible options" to transfer Soviet-made fighter planes from European countries to Ukraine."

Schumer, speaking at a news conference from his midtown Manhattan office, said Zelenskyy told lawmakers that above all else, his country needs aircraft to defend itself.

The United States can assist by backfilling those supplies to other Eastern European countries so they are not left defenseless, Schumer said.

"The good news is there are Eastern European countries that have Soviet level aircraft that could be flown by Ukrainian pilots. They are trained in this," Schumer said. "And they could be just what President Zelenskyy needs."

Schumer also said he is hopeful a $10 billion security and humanitarian Ukrainian aid package will soon be approved by Congress.

"The bottom line is I stand, New Yorkers stand, the American people stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people," he said.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned that while there is broad support for providing more equipment, "there’s complications" attached with transporting the fighter jets to Ukraine.

"It's not just as easy as handing it over," Rubio said on CNN. "You got to fly those in. You got to station them somewhere on the ground."

On Sunday morning, Rubio noted, Russia launched several rockets at an airport in western Ukraine.

"One thing is having the planes, and then another thing is being able to use them … I just want everyone to understand that it's not a magic solution," he said. "There are complications that come with it."

Rubio said he supported any move to ban the import of Russian oil, despite the potential impact on gas prices in the United States.

"It makes no sense whatsoever to continue to buy oil from Russia that they use to fund this war and this murderous campaign that they're undertaking," Rubio said.

Echoing the growing bipartisan support for a ban on Russian oil, Sen. Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.), told NBC’s "Meet the Press" he trusted that Americans would be willing to accept a temporary bump in prices at the gas pump.

"We don't have to put any more pain on the American people who are already suffering with inflation now, but I believe the American people would" accept the price increases "if they had to," Manchin said, "seeing that they're saving freedom and saving lives of people, innocent people."

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, asked on CNN’s "State of the Union" about the possibility of a total ban on Russian energy exports from the European Union, said the current turmoil provided a reason "to say we have to get rid of the dependency of fossil fuels from Russia."

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