In a historic address to the US Congress, Ukraine’s president invoked the horror of the 2001 terror attacks on the US as he pleaded for more military aid.
Volodymyr Zelensky said via video link that Ukraine was experiencing a 9/11-style attack every day as it fought Russian forces. “I need to protect the sky.” he said, urging the US and NATO allies to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Later, President Biden is expected to sign an additional $800 million (£612 million) in military aid to Ukraine. He urged the assembled US politicians to recall being attacked in the past – at Pearl Harbor in 1941 and on September 11, 2001 – and said Ukrainians were experiencing the same thing every day.
“You have pages in your great history that will help you understand Ukrainian history. Now you get it, “He stated.
He also alluded to civil rights activist Martin Luther King’s famous speech: “I have a dream, these words are familiar to all of you – today I can say I have a requirement. I have a responsibility to protect the sky “He stated.
The Ukrainian president also showed a video of missile strikes on his country’s cities, as well as the deaths and injuries that resulted. He has repeatedly requested that NATO impose a no-fly zone over his country’s airspace, but NATO has declined.
A no-fly zone over Ukraine would require NATO forces to engage in direct combat with any Russian planes spotted in those skies, and to shoot at them if necessary.
Mr Zelensky advocated for air defence systems and aircraft as an alternative to a no-fly zone.
He has previously asked the US and the EU for Polish MiG-29 fighter jets, but Mr Biden has rejected this request due to concerns that it would draw NATO members into the war.
President Zelensky addressed President Biden directly in English, saying: “I want you to be the world’s leader. Being the world’s leader entails being the world’s peacekeeper.”
According to US media, the $800 million in funding will go toward anti-armour and anti-aircraft weapons such as Stingers and Javelins.
The funding is provided by a spending bill approved by Congress last week for humanitarian, defensive, and economic assistance to Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Russian forces continued to launch attacks in cities and towns across the country:
Meanwhile, NATO defence ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss how they will respond to the invasion. Mr. Biden is scheduled to visit Brussels next week to meet with NATO allies and attend a European Union leaders’ summit.
According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, the US president will “discuss ongoing deterrence and defence efforts,” and reaffirm his country’s commitment to its NATO allies.
On Tuesday evening, the prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic met with Mr Zelensky as a curfew was imposed in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
Following that, the Czech leader assured Ukrainians that they were “not alone” The delegation is the first group of Western leaders to visit Ukraine since Russia’s invasion last month.