Zelenskyy tells US Congress, ‘We need you right now’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed U.S. Congress Wednesday, asking for more sanctions against Russia and repeated his calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

By The Associated Press and Hana Mae Nassar

President Joe Biden says the U.S. is sending more anti-aircraft, anti-armor weapons, and drones to Ukraine to aid in the fight against Russia.

Biden announced an additional $800 million in military assistance for Ukraine, just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an impassioned plea for the U.S. and West to provide more help to save his young democracy than world leaders have so far pledged to provide.

Wearing his now trademark army green T-shirt, Zelenskyy began his remarks Wednesday to his “American friends”  by citing Pearl Harbor and the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as he appealed to the U.S. Congress to do more to help.

Livestreamed into the Capitol complex, Zelenskyy said the U.S. must sanction Russian lawmakers and block imports. He showed a packed auditorium of U.S. lawmakers an emotional video of the destruction and devastation his country has suffered in the war.

“We need you right now,” Zelenskyy said, adding, “I call on you to do more.”

In calling for more economic hits to the Russians, he said: “Peace is more important than income.”

Lawmakers gave him a standing ovation, before and after his remarks.

Zelenskyy acknowledged the no-fly zone he has sought to “close the sky” to airstrikes on his country may not happen. Biden has resisted that, as well as approval for the U.S. or NATO to send MiG fighter jets from Poland.

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden speaks about additional security assistance that his administration will provide to Ukraine, Wednesday, March 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


Biden, describing help he was already prepared to announce, said the additional $800 million makes a total of $2 billion in such aid sent to Kyiv since he took office more than a year ago. About $1 billion in aid has been sent in the past week. Biden said the new assistance includes 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 100 grenade launchers, 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenade launchers and mortar rounds and an unspecified number of drones.

“We’re going to give Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead,” Biden said.

Zelenskyy appeared at the U.S. Capitol one day after a virtual speech to Canadian officials. Zelenskyy addressed the House of Commons Tuesday, also pleading for continued support amid the Russian invasion, which is now into its third week.

“Every night is a horrible night,” Zelenskyy told Canadians, asking them to imagine what it would be like if their own country was under a similar attack.

The Ukrainian president acknowledged and thanked Canada for its assistance and aid in recent weeks. He continued to make his pitch to NATO allies to enforce a no-fly zone.

“We are not asking for much. We’re asking for justice, for real support,” he said.

Canada, along with other allies have denied the request for a no-fly zone out of fears it will lead to an escalation of war in Europe.

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U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has stopped short of providing a no-fly zone or the transfer of military jets from neighboring Poland as the U.S. seeks to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia.

The White House has been weighing giving Ukraine access to U.S.-made Switchblade drones that can fly and strike Russian targets, according to a separate person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly. It was not immediately clear if the new drones that Biden said would be delivered to Ukraine include the Switchblades.

-With files from Michael Ranger and Cormac Mac Sweeney

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