Zelenskyy implores US Congress for assistance against Russia

Zelenskyy implores US Congress for assistance against Russia
Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelensky. Credit: Belga

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the US Congress on Wednesday to do more to help his country survive the Russian onslaught. In a passionate address, he appealed to the American memories of Pearl Harbour and 9/11.

Zelenskyy showed a video of the horrors that Russia has brought upon the Ukrainian people, including deadly airstrikes that have claimed hundreds of civilian lives. The president asked directly for a no-fly zone over Ukraine – a measure that NATO has repeatedly ruled out.

"As leader of my nation, I am addressing President Biden," the Ukrainian president said. "I wish you to be the leader of the world, which means to be the leader of peace."

The move is expected to put pressure on President Biden, who has been hesitant to provide military assistance – whether personnel or weapons – to the war-torn country.

Furthermore, the Ukrainian leader urged the US to hit Russia with further sanctions as well as target Russian politicians and stop any US businesses from dealing with Russia.

No-fly concerns

NATO has been unwilling to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine out of fears of escalating the conflict. Zelenskyy addressed this concern, asking if it "is too much to ask for? If it's too much, we ask for other defence systems: powerful, strong aviation to protect our people. Aircraft that can help Ukraine and help Europe."

President Biden has instead reaffirmed the US commitment to defend all NATO members and has sent $300 million in military aid to Ukraine.

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The Ukrainian leader has been commended for his courage as well as his ability to rally support through his use of social media. He has cast the conflict as a battle for Europe and for democracy, repeatedly using language such as "we" to drive home the collective element of the conflict.

In response, many Eastern European nations urged the European Commission to consider EU membership for Ukraine. It remains to be seen whether the US will heed any of Zelenskyy's calls.

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