Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses Congress via video Wednesday.
(Via C-SPAN)
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Ukraine’s Zelensky makes urgent appeal to Congress for more supplies to fight Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wants the U.S. to send more financial aid, impose stiffer sanctions on Russia, and help arm and defend Ukraine.

In the first virtual presentation by a foreign leader to Congress, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an emotional appeal the U.S. on Wednesday for an urgent round of financial support and more weaponry to assist his country stave off the invasion by Russia.

“Friends, Ukraine is grateful to the United States for its overwhelming support for everything that your government and your people have done for us for weapons and ammunition,” Zelensky said, wearing a camouflage green T-shirt from an office inside his war-torn nation’s capital, with the Ukrainian flag beside him.

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“I call on you to do more. New packages of sanctions are needed … every week until the Russian military machine stops,” he said, asking for sanctions on every politician in the Russian federation.

Speaking mostly through a translator, he compared the Russian invasion to the attacks on the U.S. on Dec. 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11, 2001, in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

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“Our country experiences the same every day, right now at this moment. Every night for three weeks now,” Zelensky said. “Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death.”

Zelensky showed a short video depicting graphic violence in Ukraine, including bombings and injured children.

Afterward, speaking briefly in English, Zelensky noted that he is almost 45 years old, but that “my age stopped when the hearts of more than 100 children stop beating. I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths.”

Zelensky’s impassioned 20-minute plea comes as Congress — impressed by Ukraine’s ability to hold back Russia and Zelensky’s leadership— has pushed the White House to get more involved in aiding the country.

Lawmakers greeted him with a standing ovation.

After days of communicating directly with foreign heads of state, Zelensky has rolled out a new strategy to go directly to foreign legislatures and, because those addresses are broadcast to the public, directly to the international public. Zelensky addressed the Canadian parliament on Tuesday.

Regarding his request for an international no-fly zone over Ukraine, he asked, "“Is this a lot to ask for — to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine to save people?”

The Biden administration has rebuffed his requests for fighter jets and the imposition of a no-fly zone, believing such actions could escalate the conflict.

Zelensky’s address will put new pressure on the administration. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) invited him to address the body.

As the war has unfolded, Congress’s prodding of the White House has worked. It was Congress that pushed the White House to ban the importation of Russian oil, a prohibition Biden announced only after it became clear Congress would have done so without him.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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