Ukrainian President Zelensky begs Biden to help

“If you had started sanctions months ago, there would not have been war,” Zelensky said on Saturday morning

By Kelly McClure

Published March 5, 2022 3:49PM (EST)

Vladimir Putin, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Joe Biden (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Vladimir Putin, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Joe Biden (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

During an hour-long call with more than 300 members of Congress conducted over Zoom on Saturday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an impassioned case for increased military assistance from the United States. 

During the call Zelensky was thankful for the assistance Ukraine has received from the United States so far, but followed up with a plead for more in the way of the establishment of a no-fly zone over Ukraine to slow the Russian push against their country that has been pummeling them for a week.

"If you had started sanctions months ago, there would not have been war," Zelensky said during Saturday's meeting.

Related: Biden promises punishing sanctions on Russia, stops short of Putin

After the call ended, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer brought to CNN's attention that Zelensky "made a desperate plea for Eastern European countries to provide Russian-made planes to Ukraine. These planes are very much needed." 

"And I will do all I can to help the administration to facilitate their transfer," Schumer said in response to Zelensky's request.


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This week the Biden administration did request $32.5 billion in Ukraine aid. 

"Given the rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine, I anticipate that additional needs may arise over time," Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a letter to lawmakers quoted in a report by The Washington Post

During Saturday's call for help, Zelensky's main ask could be summarized as "close the skies or give us planes," according to The Washington Post coverage of. 

"His main ask was for the U.S. to allow Poland and Romania to transfer Soviet era jets to #Ukraine, and for the U.S. to compensate by giving more advanced planes to those two NATO allies," Rep. Brad Sherman said.

Those called to participate in the Zoom meeting were asked to not share anything about it on social media until it was concluded, for safety reasons, but senators Marco Rubio and Steve Daines were called out for going against that request and sharing screenshots of the call while it was still underway.

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Kelly McClure

Kelly McClure is a journalist and fiction writer who lives in New Orleans. She is Salon's Nights and Weekends editor, and her work has been featured in Vulture, The A.V. Club, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Nylon, Vice, and elsewhere. She is the author of Something is Always Happening Somewhere

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