Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy invoked past attacks on the U.S. at Pearl Harbor and 9/11 in pleading with Congress on Wednesday for more military aid, economic sanctions and a no-fly zone to repel the ongoing Russian invasion.
“Remember Pearl Harbor, the terrible morning of December 7, 1941, when your sky was black from the planes attacking you. Remember Sept. 11, a terrible day in 2001 when evil tried to turn your cities independent territories into battlefield,” Zelenskyy told U.S. lawmakers via video feed from Kyiv.
“Our country experiences the same every day, right now, at this moment, every night for three weeks now.”
Zelenksyy called on President Joe Biden to become the leader of the world, which he said “means to be the leader of peace.”
Members of Utah’s congressional delegation described Zelenskyy as heroic, inspiring and a “man for the moment.” They support what the Ukrainian president is asking for, except a humanitarian no-fly zone over his country.
“This morning’s remarks were a powerful reminder of what it means to fight for freedom,” Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said. “It is clearly a moment for Congress to speak with one voice by passing strong, bipartisan legislation that cripples Russia and delivers humanitarian, security, and economic assistance to Ukraine.”
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said he came away from Zelenksyy’s speech “fully committed to doing everything in our power to help defend the people of Ukraine against the monstrous actions of Vladimir Putin.”
Stepping out of @ZelenskyyUa's address to Congress, I’m again moved by his monumental leadership and heroic courage. Being a world leader does indeed mean we have a responsibility to be a leader of freedom and peace. We must fulfill his request immediately. Get Ukraine the MiGs. pic.twitter.com/hBEYXGt5ZV— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) March 16, 2022
Romney said that includes getting Ukraine the MiG-29 fighter jets it has asked for as well as missile defense and anti-aircraft systems.
“We’ve got to do more,” he said.
At the same, the U.S must deliver humanitarian aid and find ways for Ukrainian refugees to come to the United States and other countries in “safe zones,” Romney said.
Romney said he knows some worry that what the U.S. might do would “irritate” or provoke Putin.
“Well, it’s time for him to be more worried about what we might do than for us to be worried about what he might do,” he said. “We need to defend freedom. It’s in our interest. It’s in the world’s interest. ... This is a responsibility we have and it’s something we need to carry out, in my opinion.”
Zelenskyy showed lawmakers a powerful and graphic video of Russian missiles and bombs killing innocent Ukrainians, including children, and destroying cities across the country.
The words “This is murder” came up on the screen during the video, which ended with the words, “Close the sky over Ukraine.”
The U.S. has rejected Zelenskyy’s repeated request to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
“I need to protect our skies,” he said, adding “I have a dream,” invoking a Martin Luther King Jr. speech.
Zelenskyy said if a no-fly zone is too much to ask, an alternative would be to provide aircraft and defense systems. Biden has also refused to get the U.S. involved with the transfer of Polish MiG-29 jets to Ukraine, a move that has bipartisan support in Congress.
The Ukrainian president also called for tighter sanctions on Russian politicians who have not cut ties with Putin, the closure of all U.S ports to Russian goods, and pressure on American companies to stop doing business in Russia.
Stewart, a member of House Intelligence Committee, said Zelenskyy’s request for tighter sanctions on Russia should be met immediately.
“They will make the war harder and harder for Putin to fund, and they are already increasing the economic and political costs of waging it,” he said.
Zelenskyy’s request for additional military aid should also be met, including the Polish MiG-29 fighter jets and any other equipment the Ukrainian military deems essential, Stewart said.
But, he said, he opposes the implementation of a no-fly zone,” he said. “I believe the U.S. and our NATO allies can provide Ukraine with the necessary equipment to deter Russia without risking a dramatic escalation.”
Stewart also tweeted Wednesday that Putin’s net worth was just declassified, and that it’s estimated at $25 billion.
“We need to increase pressure,” the congressman said. “Putin needs to know he isn’t safe from our sanctions.”
At my request, Putin's net worth was just declassified. We estimate that it's around $25 billion.— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) March 16, 2022
This corrupt fortune is literally built on the stolen wealth and suffering of his own people.
We need to increase pressure. Putin needs to know he isn't safe from our sanctions.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said a no-fly zone would “amount to an act of war” and require congressional authorization.
“It’s important anytime we’re putting America’s brave women and men in harm’s way that we do so in the manner prescribed by the Constitution,” he said.
Lee said if that option is seriously considered, he would expect and demand that it happen only after Congress has voted on it.
“We need to do what we can to help Ukraine, and as I have called for already, we must give them more weapons and resources to defend themselves and increase sanctions against Russia,” he said. “By supporting Ukraine, along with our European allies, we can show Putin he will not win this unprovoked invasion.”
“Vladimir Putin is a power-hungry mad man, and the misery he is unleashing on innocent men, women, and children is sickening. America must get off the sidelines and step up our support,” he said.
“We must immediately dispatch military supplies, including lethal weapons and MiGs, humanitarian aid and harsher sanctions.”
A member of of the House Armed Services and Natural Resources committees, Utah GOP Rep. Blake Moore said he is working to push legislation that supports the Ukrainian people by imposing crippling sanctions on Russia, providing lethal aid to Ukraine’s security efforts and holding Vladimir Putin accountable for war crimes. He said he’s also looking to expand American energy production to decrease U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources.
“I thank President Zelensky for his bravery and leadership,” Moore said. “The entire world is encouraged by his perseverance in the face of such devastation.”