Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a passionate plea on Wednesday to the U.S. Congress in a video address, asking them to supply his country with air defense systems to help combat the continuous Russian onslaught from the skies.
As an alternative to Western countries imposing a no-fly zone across Ukraine — a request already firmly rejected by NATO allies — Zelensky asked for weapons to help protect its airspace from Russian missile attacks.
“You know what protection systems we need,” Zelensky told congressional members. “S-300 and similar systems. You know how much depends on the use of airspace in the fight,” he added, also asking for planes to help defend “Ukraine and Europe.”
The Ukrainian president said Russia had turned the Ukrainian sky into a “source of death” for thousands of people.
“Russian troops have already fired about a thousand missiles at Ukraine. Countless bombs. Drones are used for more accurate targeting. This is a terror that Europe has not experienced for 80 years,” he said.
“I have a dream. These words are familiar to everyone,” Zelensky said, referring to the famous 1963 speech by Martin Luther King, a U.S. civil rights activist. “I say today: I need (their help). We need to protect our sky, your decision and your help.”
Zelensky asked Americans to put themselves in the situation of the Ukrainians, and recalled the Japanese attack on the U.S. base in Pearl Harbor during World War II, when, as he put it, “the sky turned black over the heads of the Americans.”
He also recalled the 2001 terrorist attack that destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, stressing that for the past three weeks, Ukrainians have died every day.
“You are the leader of the nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world,” Zelensky said in a direct address to U.S. President Joe Biden. “Being the leader of the world means being the leader of peace,” he added.