At a moment that US Congress is busy prepping a whopping $10 billion military and humanitarian aide package for Ukraine, the country's leader Volodymyr Zelensky is already making a "desperate plea" for more, telling a virtual meeting of over 300 Congress members Saturday that his military urgently needs additional jets to be sent to Kiev.
The Zoom call was first time since the Russian invasion began almost a week-and-a-half ago that Zelensky addressed both houses of the Congress in a major appeal. He took the opportunity to reiterate his call for a no-fly zone, which both NATO leadership and the Biden administration have so far rejected, citing that it would lead the US into a direct shooting war with Russia.
During the speech, Zelensky made a "desperate plea for Eastern European countries to provide Russian-made planes to Ukraine." This according to a description of his words provided to media outlets by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
"I will do all I can to help the administration to facilitate their transfer," Schumer said. Zelensky also appealed for more drones to be given to the Ukrainian military.
According to The New York Times, Zelensky seemed to acknowledged the prior call for a no-fly zone over Ukraine is not on the table for Washington. So he framed the need as a "close the skies or give us planes" message:
"Zelensky’s message is simple: ‘Close the skies or give us planes,’'" Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, said in a statement after the meeting. "Let’s be cleareyed about our options: A no-fly zone means sending American pilots into combat against Russian jets and air defenses — in a battle between nuclear powers that could spiral out of control quickly."
Despite Sen. Sasse clearly being aware of the dangers of the US getting sucked in to a WW3, he said in follow-up that he believes the US "should absolutely send Ukrainians planes, helicopters and UAVs," according to the Times report.
Zelensky asked us to turn off MasterCard and Visa for Russia. I agree. The Financial Services committee needs to look at this next week. (4/4)— Congressman Brad Sherman (@BradSherman) March 5, 2022
On Saturday surreal footage is circulating of a Russian jet shot down over Ukraine's north, with pilots parachuting over city buildings...
Pilots of the downed Russian jet in Chernihiv managed to get out, one of them already captured, the other one reportedly deadpic.twitter.com/fJknUX9Hiw— marqs (@MarQs__) March 5, 2022
As for the $10 billion aide package in the works, Congressional leaders said they are busy working "very hard in bipartisan fashion".