Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a livestreamed video to Congress on Wednesday pleaded for the U.S. to help him battle Russia’s bombardment of his country with a no-fly zone or military equipment to protect Ukraine’s skies.
“Russia has turned the Ukrainian side into a source of death for thousands of people,” Mr. Zelenskyy told the roomful of senators and congressmen.
“This is a terror that Europe has not seen, has not seen for 80 years, and we are asking for a reply to this terror from the whole world. Is this a lot to ask for — to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine to save people? Is this too much to ask humanitarian — a no-fly zone.”
If not a no-fly zone, giving aircraft for Ukrainians to battle Russia in the skies would be the next best option, Mr. Zelenskyy said.
The address was welcomed by lawmakers who consider Mr. Zelenskyy a heroic leader for standing up to Russia, but it also upped the pressure on lawmakers and President Biden to do more for Ukraine, which is virtually alone in its battle against Moscow’s military might.
Mr. Biden has resisted a no-fly zone or providing fighter jets to Ukraine for fear of escalating the war.
SEE ALSO: Biden to announce $800M in Ukraine security aid after Zelenskyy pleads to Congress for more help
Mr. Zelenskyy likened the Russian assault on Ukraine to Pearl Harbor and 9/11.
“Remember Pearl Harbor,” Mr. Zelenskyy told members of both chambers Wednesday. “The terrible morning of December 7, 1941, when your sky was black from the planes attacking you. Just remember it. Remember September, 11. A terrible day in 2001 when evil tried to turn your cities, independent territories into battlefields. When innocent people were attacked.
“Our country is experiencing the same every day,” he said. “Right now at this moment. Every night for three weeks now. Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death for thousands of people.”
Mr. Biden has voiced caution about providing aid that could put U.S. forces in direct confrontation with Russian forces, warning that such clashes could lead to further escalation and potentially spark World War III.
Mr. Zelenskyy‘s address caps a series of high-profile pleas to world leaders for help as the Russian assault on Ukraine intensifies with bombardments of civilians, including a shell striking and partially collapsing a 12-story residential building in Kyiv on Wednesday.
More than 3 million Ukrainian refugees have fled the fighting in their country.
Mr. Zelenskyy has appealed to the U.S. for more military aid, including providing U.S. fighter jets to neighboring Poland to facilitate the transfer of Polish MiGs to Ukraine.
He also has intensified calls for NATO countries to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine to thwart the onslaught of Russian airstrikes that have pummeled Ukrainian cities.
In preparation to respond to Mr. Zelenskyy’s speech to Congress, Mr. Biden is teeing up an additional $800 million in military aid for the war-torn country. Mr. Biden is expected to announce the aid in a speech from the White House shortly after Mr. Zelenskyy’s address.
The package will include anti-tank missiles and a new collection of portable defensive weapons the U.S. has already provided, including Javelin missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
The aid adds to the $13.6 billion in emergency humanitarian and emergency aid for Ukraine recently approved by Congress.
In his livestreamed speech, the Ukrainian president called out Mr. Biden by name. He expressed gratitude for Mr. Biden’s “personal involvement” and resolve against Russian aggression. He also asked for Mr. Biden to do more to cripple Moscow with sanctions.
“I call on you to do more, new packages of sanctions that are needed constantly every week until the Russian military machine stops,” Mr. Zelenskyy said, recommending sanctions on Russian officials at every level of the government who “lack the morals to break this state terror.”
He also called on U.S. businesses to pull out of Russia and impose a complete boycott on the country, and he pleaded with lawmakers to promote the effort.
“Ladies and gentlemen, members of Congress, please take the lead,” Mr. Zelenskyy said. “If you have companies in your district who finance the Russia military machine … I’m asking to make sure that the Russians do not receive a single penny that they can use to destroy people in Ukraine.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, introduced Mr. Zelenskyy before a packed auditorium at the Capitol, pledging “great respect, admiration appreciation,” for Mr. Zelenskyy’s “courageous leadership.“
In a speech before Canada’s parliament on Tuesday, Mr. Zelensky pleaded for a no-fly zone, saying it was necessary to stop Russia’s bid to “annihilate” Ukraine.
“It’s dire straits, but it also allowed us to see who our real friends are over the last 20 days,” Mr. Zelenskyy told the Canadian legislature.
The Biden administration will work to get the equipment to Ukraine as quickly as possible, given that as Russian forces advance it is becoming more difficult to move supplies into the country.
• S.A. Miller contributed to this report.
• Joseph Clark can be reached at email@example.com.
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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