Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a historic, virtual speech to Congress on Wednesday, calling on the United States to help stop Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and naming President Joe Biden in English, saying “being a world leader means being a leader. Peace.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced the President of Ukraine and led the members with the slogan “Slava Ukraine” or “Pride of Ukraine”.
“The glory of the heroes,” Zelensky replied. “Thank you very much, Madame Speaker, members of Congress, ladies and gentlemen, Americans, friends, I am proud to congratulate you from Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, a city that is under constant Russian military missile and air strikes every day, but leave it at that. No – and we didn’t even think about it for a second, “he said.
In an emotional plea, Zelensky reminded Americans to wear Ukrainian shoes, remembering Pearl Harbor, “when your skies turned black from the planes that attacked you,” and recalled the 9/11 attacks, saying “Ukraine has seen death every day for three weeks now.”
“Remember September 11th, a terrible day in 2001 when evil tried to turn your cities, independent territories into battlefields, when innocent people were attacked from the sky. Yes, just like no one else expected, you could not stop it.” “Our country feels the same thing every day, at the moment, every night for three weeks now, in different cities of Ukraine – Mariupol and Kharkiv – Russia has turned the skies of Ukraine into a source of thousands of deaths,” he said.
He also called on American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to deliver a “one-of-a-kind” speech on behalf of the American audience.
“‘I have a dream.’ These words are known to all of you. Today I can say, ‘I have a need’ – I need to protect the sky, “he said. “I make your decision, I need your help, which means exactly the same thing. When you hear this saying, ‘I have a dream,’ you feel the same way.”
Zelensky described the horrors at home as a terror not seen in Europe for 80 years and went on to run a three-minute video of the violence and bloodshed in Ukraine over the past three weeks, including pictures of dead children, with the message “Close Ukraine’s sky.”
“Is it too much to ask for a no-fly zone over Ukraine to save lives? Is it too much to ask?” Zelensky says. “Humanitarian no-fly zone, something like Ukraine, that Russia will not be able to terrorize our free cities.”
“If it is asked too much, we offer an alternative. You know what kind of defense we need, the S-300 and other systems,” he said, referring to the Soviet-era surface-to-air missile system, the cruise missile. And protect from air strikes.
Jelensky spoke directly to Biden and closed his short but unusual address – in English.
“I say to President Biden: You are the leader of the nation, your brave nation. I want you to be the leader of the world. To be the leader of the world is to be the leader of peace,” Zelensky said. . “Thank you. Slava Ukraine.”
On Tuesday, the White House said it would try to find Biden Zelensky’s address according to its schedule and would then provide an address of its own, detailing what the United States was doing for “Ukrainian security assistance.”
He made the remarks in a preliminary response to reporters’ comments on Tuesday when he signed a 1.5 trillion government funding bill, which includes 13 13.6 billion in supplementary aid to Ukraine.
“We are providing anti-armament – anti-tank, anti-aircraft capability, directly – directly to Ukrainian forces. And we are also facilitating significant shipments of security assistance to Ukraine from our allies,” Biden said. . “With this new security fund … we are urgently moving forward to increase the support of the brave people of Ukraine to defend their country.”
The United States has imposed economic and trade sanctions to isolate Putin, the Biden administration has explicitly and repeatedly rejected the no-fly zone, as well as provided any assistance to US troops fighting Russia in Ukraine and MiG-29 fighter jets to Poland. Wants to go to the Ukrainians. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.
Request for a no-fly zone
Following Zelensky’s appeal, Saki was pressured on Tuesday over how the administration planned to deal with possible requests for measures such as closing airspace over Ukraine.
“I would say that without knowing what he is going to say tomorrow, we must know what the questions were. We have provided our own assessment which is meaningful and not meaningful,” Saki added. Biden signs financing agreement in Ukraine
Another reporter followed, “Is Zelensky wasting his time for these things tomorrow?”
“Because of President Zelensky’s passion, courage and bravery, there has been a historic support for military and security assistance and the acceleration of arms supplies that have helped him and his military fight the Russians,” Saki said. “And I would say that, yes, we acknowledge that there is a range of bilateral calls, but what we have to do here is to assess the impact on the United States and our own national security.”
Saki added that a no-fly zone “necessarily means we shoot down Russian planes, and they potentially shoot at us.”
On Tuesday, top Republicans called on Biden to reconsider his decision to provide more lethal aid to Ukraine quickly and not to allow the transfer of MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland to Ukraine.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday accused the administration of “pulling its heels” in providing aid to Ukraine.
Asked how lawmakers could navigate to deny Jelensky some of the security measures they could request, McConnell indicated he would agree with what Zelensky was saying, in addition to imposing a no-fly zone.
“My guess is that we should do whatever he is going to request and so my personal response would be yes,” McConnell said. “The administration needs to get the message it needs to help the Ukrainians in every possible way, and we need to do it now – not just us, but our NATO allies – who seem more concerned than the administration about helping the Ukrainians.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the invitation to Zelensky to speak to Congress “one of the highest honors bestowed on a foreign head of state by the body.”
“We are all inspired by the courage of President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine. President Zelensky can be confident that his friends in Congress will always be ready to stand in his corner and listen, and we are honored to have him with us this weekend,” he said on the Senate floor on Monday. Said.
Outside the auditorium on Wednesday before the speech, members of Congress were seen handing out pins with Ukrainian and American flags crossed for members to wear inside.
As he continued his appeal to the West, Zelensky became the first foreign leader to address the House of Commons in Britain last week, echoing Winston Churchill’s famous June 1940 speech after the Allies stopped the “Dunkirk miracle”.
“We will not give up, we will not lose. We will fight to the end – at sea, in the sky, we will continue to fight for our land, whatever it is we will fight in the forest, in the fields, on the coast, in the streets,” he said Hall, standing with slogans.
ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel, Ben Gitlson, Penelope Lopez, Luis Martinez, Connor Finnegan, Sarah Kolinowski, Molly Nagel, Trish Turner and Alison Pecorin contributed to this report.