Ukrainian leader Zelenskyy must face Congress and ask for help
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the U.S. Congress, the actor-turned-warlord’s latest video speech as he uses the West’s major legislative bodies as a global stage to orchestrate support against the crushing invasion of Russia.
Zelenskyy’s live-streamed speech Wednesday from the United States Capitol will be among the most important in a unique and very public strategy in which he invoked Winston Churchill, Hamlet and the power of world opinion in his fight to stop the Russia.
As three weeks of an ever-escalating war approach, Zelenskyy has used his campaign to implore Allied leaders to “shut up the skies” to prevent Russian airstrikes devastating his country. It’s a singular request and now a rallying cry in popular culture. It also put Zelenskyy at odds with President Joe Biden, whose administration has refrained from providing a no-fly zone or the transfer of military planes from neighboring Poland as the United States seeks to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia.
Instead, Biden will deliver his own speech after Zelenskyy’s speech, in which he is expected to announce an additional $800 million in security aid to Ukraine, according to a White House official familiar with the matter. That would bring the total announced last week to $1 billion. It includes money for anti-armour and air defense weapons, according to the official, who was not authorized to comment and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Appearing in his now-iconic military green T-shirt as he appeals to world leaders, boyish but unshaven Zelenskyy has emerged as a heroic figure at the center of what many see as the greatest threat to the security of the Europe since World War II. Nearly 3 million refugees have fled Ukraine, the fastest exodus in modern times.
President Biden is now due to meet with NATO leaders in Brussels to discuss next steps in handling Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine. (CNN, CTV NETWORK)
Invoking Shakespeare’s hero last week, he asked the British House of Commons whether Ukraine should “be or not be”. On Tuesday, he called out “Dear Justin” as he addressed the Canadian Parliament and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Zelenskyy called on European Union leaders at the start of the war to do the politically unthinkable and fast-track Ukraine’s membership – and he continued to ask for more help to save his fledgling democracy than the leaders have so far committed to do.
“I know he will ask for more help,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
Biden insisted there would be no US troops on the ground in Ukraine and resisted Zelenskyy’s incessant calls for warplanes as too risky, potentially escalating into a direct confrontation with armed Russia. ‘nuclear weapons.
“The direct conflict between NATO and Russia is World War III,” Biden said.
President Joe Biden explains his reluctance to use American planes and pilots in Ukraine. (Source: Pool/CNN)
US defense officials, for their part, say they are intrigued by Zelenskyy’s request for more fighter jets. They say Ukraine often does not fly the planes it currently has, while making good use of other Western-supplied weapons, including Stinger missiles to shoot down helicopters and other planes.
As officials predict Zelenskyy could again appeal to the United States and the West for fighter jets or to help establish a no-fly zone, the Biden administration is looking to send to Ukraine” more of what worked well,” according to an official who was not authorized to comment and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Biden administration has already sent Ukraine more than 600 Stinger missiles, 2,600 Javelin anti-armour systems, unmanned aerial system tracking radars; grenade launchers, 200 shotguns, 200 machine guns and almost 40 million small arms cartridges, as well as helicopters, patrol boats, satellite imagery and body armor, helmets and other tactical equipment, the manager said.
Even though Zelenskyy and Biden speak to each other almost daily by phone, the Ukrainian president has found a potentially more receptive audience in Congress.
GRAPHIC WARNING: Some videos in this story contain disturbing content.
The Russian offensive is closer to the center of kyiv. (CNN, RUSSIA CHANEL 1, TELEGRAM, UNTV, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY, HOST TV, OBTAINED BY RIA-MELITOPOL, TWITTER)
It will not be the first time he has appealed directly to members of the House and Senate, who have remained remarkably united in their support for Ukraine, with the feeling that they are committed to doing all that they can in the fight against Russia. . Nearly two weeks ago, Zelenskyy issued a desperate plea to some 300 lawmakers and staffers in a private call that if they couldn’t enforce a no-fly zone, at least send more planes .
“We believe the United States needs to do more,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., returning from a weekend visit with other lawmakers in Poland.
Congress has already approved $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, and the recently announced security aid will come from that allocation, which is part of a larger bill Biden has enacted on Tuesday. But lawmakers expect more help will be needed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Zelenskyy asked for help to rebuild his country during their conversation last week.
It was during this call that Zelenskyy asked for the opportunity to address the US Congress, which the Democratic leader readily accepted.
“Congress, our country and the world stand in awe of the people of Ukraine,” Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday in a statement announcing the speech.
They said Congress “remains steadfast in its commitment to support Ukraine in the face of Putin’s cruel and diabolical aggression.”
Zelenskyy’s next stop could be Spain. The President of the Spanish Congress of Deputies invited the Ukrainian President to address Spanish lawmakers via video link.
In a letter to Zelenskyy, President Meritxell Batet wrote that the address “will be a wonderful opportunity for the chamber, all Spaniards and the thousands of Ukrainians living in Spain to listen to your message and express our strongest support closed”.
Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani, Ellen Knickmeyer and Chris Megerian and Raf Casert in Brussels, Jill Lawless in London, Aritz Parra in Madrid and videojournalist Rick Gentilo contributed to this report.
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