Volodimir Zelensky on Wednesday urged the United States to provide Ukraine with more armaments to deal with aerial bombardment from Russia, inviting American lawmakers to remember the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the attacks of 11 September 2001. He also called on his American counterpart Joe Biden to behave as a “peace leader” in the world.
Addressing the United States Congress by video link, the President of Ukraine has a new once advocated for a no-fly zone over his country and called for more aircraft and air defense systems.
“Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death for thousands of people,” said Volodimir Zelensky before showing the elected officials of the United States House of Representatives and Senate a video containing raw images of the deaths and destruction caused by the Russian military offensive in his country.
Here’s the featurette Zelensky screened for the US Congress, earlier today. He shared it on Telegram just now with the caption, “Close the sky over Ukraine!” Warning: very graphic footage. pic.twitter.com/aX9lVMbB3e
— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) March 16, 2022
This video ended with these words: “Close the sky over Ukraine.”
The fear of a nuclear conflict
The Ukrainian president closed his speech by speaking directly in English to Joe Biden: “I want you to be the leader of the world. To be the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.”
Like most other NATO leaders, Joe Biden and American elected officials are reluctant to the idea of a “no-fly zone” in Ukrainelest it escalate into a direct confrontation with Russia and a nuclear conflict.
The White House has also refused to back a Polish-backed plan to transfer Russian-designed MiG fighter jets to Ukraine.
The elected members of Congress gave a standing ovation to Volodimir Zelensky before and after his speech. During her presentation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used a slogan meaning “glory to Ukraine” in Ukrainian.
The Ukrainian president ended his remarks by waving to the elected officials and placing a hand on his chest in a gesture of recognition.
Try to raise awareness
Joe Biden signed into law on Tuesday providing a $13.6 billion in emergency aid (12.3 billion euros) to Ukraine to enable it to buy arms and obtain humanitarian aid.
He was to announce this Wednesday the disbursement of an additional $800 million in aid level of security to Ukraine, said a White House official.
Volodimir Zelensky reminded elected members of Congress of the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor base in Hawaii during the Second World War and the attacks of September 11 in an attempt to make them aware of the shock suffered by Ukraine.
Ukraine, a rare subject of convergence in Congress
“At this very moment, the fate of our country is being decided,” he said through an interpreter. Russia presents its offensive in Ukraine as a “special military operation” intended to guarantee its security.
Divided on almost every subject, Democratic and Republican elected members of the United States Congress find a rare point of convergence on Ukraine and the support to be given to this countrywith some even pleading for more determined support.
The delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine is also an idea that meets with some echo in both chambers. The US Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill calling President Vladimir Putin a war criminal.
After Churchill and Yeltsin, Zelensky
With their Western allies, the United States has decided on heavy economic and financial sanctions against Russia.
Joe Biden also announced a US embargo on Russian oil and gas imports. It is rare for a foreign leader to address the United States Congress in times of war.
This was the case in 1941 with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, less than three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor led the United States to enter the world conflict.
In 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian President Boris Yeltsin gave a resolutely optimistic speech to American parliamentarians in which he notably declared: “We have left behind us the period during which America and Russia were looking at each other through the sights of their guns, ready to pull the trigger at any moment.”