Zelenskyy’s ‘desperate’ plea to Congress: Send more planes

Preventing for his nation’s survival, Ukraine’s chief made a “determined” plea Saturday to American lawmakers for the USA to assist get extra warplanes to his navy and reduce off Russian oil imports as Kyiv tries to stave off the Russian invasion.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opened the non-public video name with US lawmakers by telling them this can be the final time they see him alive. He has remained in Kyiv, the capital, which has an unlimited Russian armored column threatening from the north.

Showing in what’s now his trademark army-green shirt in entrance of a white wall with the Ukrainian flag, he informed them Ukraine must safe its skies, both by means of a no-fly zone enforced by NATO or by means of the supply of extra warplanes so Ukraine might higher defend itself. Zelenskyy has been pleading for a no-fly zone for days, however NATO has refused, saying it might provoke a widespread warfare with Russia.

The hourlong change with some 300 members of Congress and their staffs got here as Russian troops continued to shell encircled cities and the variety of Ukrainians who’ve fled the nation grew to 1.4 million.

“President Zelenskyy made a determined plea,” stated Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer.

He stated Zelenskyy needs the US to facilitate the switch of planes from Jap European allies. “I’ll do all I can to assist the administration to facilitate their switch,” Schumer stated.

The US is contemplating sending American-made F-16s as backfill to former Soviet bloc international locations in Jap Europe that at the moment are members of NATO. They, in flip, would ship Ukraine their very own Soviet-era MiGs, which Ukrainian pilots are educated to fly.

There seems to be a logistical drawback, nonetheless, in sending the F-16s to Poland or different East European allies due to a manufacturing backlog. These international locations would primarily have to present their MiGs to the Ukrainians and settle for an IOU from the US for the F-16s. The scenario is additional difficult as a result of the following cargo of F-16s is ready for Taiwan, and Congress could be reluctant to delay these deliveries because it eyes China.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken indicated the fighter jets are into account after assembly with Ukrainian Overseas Minister Dymtro Kuleba on the Poland-Ukraine border outdoors the city of Korczowa.

“We’re speaking about and dealing on all the things,” Blinken informed reporters.

Blinken reiterated that the US help for Ukraine “not solely has been unprecedented, not solely is it going to proceed, it will enhance.”

The US Congress is engaged on a $10 billion bundle of navy and humanitarian support to Ukraine. Schumer informed Zelenskyy lawmakers hope to ship it shortly to Ukraine, in accordance with an individual on the decision and granted anonymity to debate it.

When Senate Republican chief Mitch McConnell requested in regards to the kinds of navy help his nation wants, Zelenskyy stated drones in addition to planes could be probably the most useful.

Through the name, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia requested Zelenskyy in regards to the thought of ​​banning the import of Russian oil to the US, in accordance with two different individuals granted anonymity to debate the non-public name. They stated Zelenskyy indicated such a ban could be efficient in placing stress on Russia.

Republicans and a rising variety of Democrats, together with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, again the concept of ​​an Russian oil import ban. The Biden administration has to date resisted that step, nervous about rising costs on the pump.

Zelenskyy urged US lawmakers to sanction Russia’s oil and fuel sector, which has to date escaped the mounting sanctions imposed by the Biden administration and different international locations.

The Ukrainian chief additionally urged lawmakers to droop Visa and Mastercard bank card entry in Russia — and the 2 introduced later Saturday that they had been doing simply that. Mastercard stated playing cards issued by Russian banks will not be supported by its community and any card issued outdoors the nation won’t work at Russian shops or ATMs. Visa stated it is working with purchasers and companions in Russia to stop all Visa transactions over the approaching days.

In a video posted to Twitter after the decision, Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., stated: “Something that would harm the Russian financial system will assist the Ukrainian individuals and should make this warfare harder for Putin.”

Zelenskyy’s workplace stated he additionally prompt the US take into account imposing an embargo on all Russian items and stripping Russia of its most-favored-nation commerce standing.

Lawmakers are involved that Zelenskyy might be killed within the Russian invasion. They’re additionally nervous {that a} Ukrainian authorities beneath assault might be unable to perform and to obtain support.

When one lawmaker requested diplomatically what would occur if he was killed, Zelenskyy acknowledged the considerations however implored Congress to do no matter it may to assist Ukraine combat off Russia’s assault on his nation.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., stated in an announcement that Zelenskyy’s “message is easy: ‘shut the skies or give us planes.'”

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