(NewsNation) — In a powerful speech before the U.S. Congress Wednesday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy evoked memories of American history that birthed deep feelings of patriotism in a bid to garner military aid and added sanctions against Russia.
“President Biden, you are the leader of the nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace,” he said.
For weeks since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Zelenskyy has pleaded for help from lawmakers in various allied states, including the United Kingdom and Canada. Thus far, the U.S. has imposed various sanctions against Russia and has provided monetary aid but has not yet implemented a no-fly zone or provided military support.
Zelenskyy used the examples of tragedies like Pearl Harbor and 9/11 to call on members of Congress to imagine what Ukrainians are facing.
“You could not stop it. Our country experiences the same every day right now,” Zelenskyy said.
Paying homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Zelenskyy invoked his most famous speech and told members of Congress, “I have a need.”
Here are the main things Zelenskyy asked for in his speech to Congress:
No-fly zone and more air support
Zelenskyy reiterated his call for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, something President Joe Biden’s administration has been reluctant to do, fearing that the move could escalate the conflict and draw NATO allies into a wider war with Russia.
“This is a terror that Europe has not seen for 80 years and we are asking for a reply, for an answer to this terror from the whole world,” Zelenskyy said.
Given that the institution of a no-fly zone appeared unlikely, Zelenskyy then asked for American aircraft to fight the Russians in the skies.
“You know that they exist and you have them but they are on earth, not in Ukraine. (They’re) in the Ukrainian sky.”
Last week, the Pentagon rejected Poland’s offer to transfer MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine due to the possibility the move could draw NATO into the conflict. However, the U.S. continues to send hundreds of antitank and antiaircraft weapons to the country.
Though U.S. troops have been deployed to Eastern Europe, the Biden administration has remained adamant that they will not engage with Russian forces in Ukraine but will defend “every inch” of NATO territory.
More sanctions against Russia
Zelenskyy thanked the United States for its “overwhelming support,” but asked Wednesday for additional sanctions against all Russian politicians who refuse to distance themselves from the country’s war efforts.
“We propose that the United States sanctions all politicians in the Russian Federation who remain in their offices and do not cut ties with those who are responsible for the aggression against Ukraine,” he said.
The U.S. has already imposed a host of restrictions against Russia and its oligarchs, targeting everything from Russian banks and oil imports to Russian President Vladimir Putin and those in his inner circle.
The Ukrainian president also called on all American companies to leave the Russian market because it is “flooded with our blood” and asked members of Congress to direct businesses within their districts to leave Russia.
Dozens of the world’s largest companies have already suspended business operations in Russia, including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Apple and Starbucks, but others continue to operate.
a new alliance — U24
Zelenskyy also proposed a new coalition — which he called “U24 – United for Peace” — an alliance of “responsible countries that have the strength and consciousness to stop conflict immediately,” by providing immediate humanitarian and military assistance to nations in need.
He suggested the coalition could be activated in the case of natural disasters and could even be mobilized for future pandemics. Zelenskyy said the alliance would allow countries to receive aid faster and more efficiently.
“Remember how difficult it was for the world to do the simplest thing just to keep vaccines against COVID?” Zelenskyy said.
Biden is expected to announce an additional $800 million in support for Ukraine Wednesday afternoon.
The additional funding comes after Congress approved $13.6 billion in humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine as part of a $1.5 trillion federal funding bill that will keep the government open through September. Biden signed the bill Tuesday.
“What we’re seeing every day is the fight for freedom. The sacrifices people are willing to make for the freedom we take for granted,” Sen. Joe Manchin said on “Morning in America.” “I hope that we would do the same and with that, that means giving him the support that we can for him to defend himself.”
Last week, a NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll found Americans broadly support sending additional arms to Ukraine, as well as continuing the economic sanctions imposed by the United States. But Americans draw a line: They are almost as strongly against using U.S. troops to defend Ukraine.