Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses Congress; invokes 9/11, Pearl Harbor

Nearly three weeks after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday.

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Update 9:23 a.m. EDT, March 16: After the video, Zelenskyy switched to English to address Congress and the American people directly, saying that it’s not only a time to be a “leader of the world” but to become a “leader of peace.”

He wants the U.S. to “do more” to help defend Ukraine.

“In the darkest time for our country, for the whole Europe, I call on you to do more. New packages of sanctions are needed, constantly, every week until the Russian military machine stops. Restrictions are needed for everyone on whom this unjust regime is based,” Zelenskyy said, according to CNN.

He had also called for “new institutions, new alliances,” to stop the invasion.

“We propose to create an association ... a union of responsible countries that have the strength and consciousness to stop conflicts immediately, provide all the necessary assistance in 24 hours, if necessary, even weapons, if necessary, sanctions, humanitarian support, political support, finances, everything you need to keep the peace and quickly save the world, to save lives,” he said, according to CNN.

Update 9:18 a.m. EDT, March 16: Zelenskyy shared a video of what he said Russia has done to Ukraine. The video started out with smiling families showing various sites around Ukraine, then quickly transitioned to clips of bombings. The video was interspersed with videos of images from before Feb. 24 with graphic video of destruction, death and explosions. It ended with the message “close the sky over Ukraine.”

You can see the video here, but it contains graphic images of war.

Update 9:15 a.m. EDT, March 16: He demanded that U.S. companies that do business in Russia leave the country, asking that lawmakers appeal to the companies in their districts to pull out of the business dealings they have with Russia.

“All American companies must leave Russia from their market, leave their market immediately, because it is flooded with our blood. Ladies and gentlemen, members of Congress, please take the lead, if you have companies in your districts who finance the Russian military machine leaving business in Russia, you should put pressure. I’m asking to make sure that the Russians do not receive a single penny that they use to destroy people in Ukraine,” Zelensky said, according to CNN.

Update 9:08 a.m. EDT, March 16: Zelenskyy has started speaking from Kyiv via video and through a translator.

“I have the honor to greet you on behalf of the Ukrainian people, brave and freedom-loving people, who for eight years have been resisting the Russian aggression,” he said, according to CNN. “Those who give their best sons and daughters to stop this full-scale Russian invasion.”

He told Congress, “Right now, the destiny of our country is being decided.” To help gain support against the Russian invasion, he asked those listening to remember what happened at Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11, saying those attacks are similar to what has been happening to his country over the past three weeks.

He said this is a “terror that Europe has not seen in 80 years” while he asked for a no-fly zone over Ukraine or an alternative if a no-fly zone is not doable.

“To create a no-fly zone over Ukraine, to save people, is this too much to ask? Humanitarian, no-fly zone — Something that Russia would not be able to [use to] terrorize our free cities. If this is too much to ask, we offer an alternative. You know what kind of defense systems we need, as 300 and similar other systems. You know how much depends on the battlefield, on the ability to use aircraft. Powerful, strong aviation to protect our people, our freedom, our land,” he said, according to CNN.

Zelenskyy also asked for aircraft and weapons, in addition to new sanctions. At the same time, he said he was grateful for the “overwhelming” support the U.S. has given Ukraine.

He also used Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech to plead for help.

“‘I have a dream,’ — these words are known to each of you. Today, I can say, I have a need. I need to protect our sky. I need your decision, your help, which means exactly the same you feel when you hear the words ‘I have a dream,’” he said, according to CNN

Update 9:04 a.m. EDT, March 16: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has introduced and welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as members of Congress gave him a standing ovation.

Original report: Zelenskyy is trying to drum up more support using the Congressional address, as his country attempts to remain its own nation and not come under the control of Russia, The Associated Press reported.

He is expecting to ask the U.S. to help “close the sky” as he has done with other allied leaders, to stop Russian airstrikes from targeting sites in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy has already addressed the Canadian Parliament on Tuesday and the British House of Commons last week. He had also spoken to about 300 lawmakers and staff members two weeks ago during a secure call requesting a no-fly zone and more planes, the AP reported.

>>Related: Zelenskyy address: How many times have world leaders spoken before Congress?

Zelenskyy has asked the European Union to approve Ukraine’s membership.

President Joe Biden has not agreed to approve a no-fly zone over the country. Biden has declined military jets from being transferred from Poland.

“Direct conflict between NATO and Russia is World War III,” Biden has said when asked about the lack of U.S. military in Ukraine, the AP reported.

Instead, Biden has issued numerous sanctions against Russia and its leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs in an effort to avoid direct military confrontations with the Kremlin forces.

The Biden administration has sent more than 600 Stinger missiles and 2,600 Javelin anti-armor systems, along with unmanned aerial system tracking radars, grenade launchers, ammunition, guns, helicopters, patrol boats, body armor, helmets and other tactical gear, the AP reported.

Biden is expected to address the U.S. after Zelenskyy’s speech and will announce $800 million in security assistance, bringing the total to $1 billion in the last week. Congress has already approved $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid since the conflict started. But more is going to be needed.

The funding announced Wednesday will go to anti-armor and air-defense weapons, the AP reported.

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