'A Moment Unlike Any Other': Zelensky Addresses Congress

Ukrainian leader references Pearl Harbor, 9/11 in asking for no-fly zone
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2022 8:34 AM CDT
'A Moment Unlike Any Other': Zelensky Addresses Congress
Members of Congress give Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky a standing ovation before he speaks in a virtual address to Congress in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center Congressional Auditorium in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2022.   (Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

(Newser) – For weeks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been speaking to the world and asking allied leaders to "close the sky." On Wednesday morning, he spoke to Congress in a virtual address. USA Today reports that while world leaders have frequently addressed Congress, this is "a moment unlike any other" with "a foreign head of state under siege from a global military power dialing in from an undisclosed location to address lawmakers still working under the restrictions of a lingering pandemic." Standout lines from Zelensky's address, which he delivered from Kyiv in what the AP calls "his now-trademark army green T-shirt":

  • "We have not even thought about it for a second," he said of giving up. "Right now, the destiny of our country is being decided, the destiny of our people."
  • "Russia has attacked not just us ... it went on a brutal offensive against our values, our basic human values, our right to live freely in our own country, choosing our own future."

  • "Remember Pearl Harbor, the terrible morning of Dec. 7, 1941, when your sky was black .. remember it, remember Sept. 11, when evil tried to turn your cities, independent territories into battlefields, where innocent people were attacked from air, just like nobody else expected it, you could not stop it. Our country experienced the same, right now, every night, for three weeks now ... Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death for thousands of people."
  • "Russian troops have already fired 1,000 missiles at Ukraine ... this is a terror that Ukraine has not seen in 80 years. We are asking for an answer to this terror from the whole world. Is this too much to ask for, a no-fly zone?"
  • "If this is too much to ask, we offer an alternative. You know what kind of defense systems we need. ... aircraft that can help Ukraine, help Europe."
  • "'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, the same you feel when you hear the words 'I have a dream.'"
  • "In the darkest time for our country ... I call on you to do more. New packages of sanctions are needed until the Russian military machine stops. We propose that the United States sanction all politicians in the Russian Federation who remain in their offices and do not cut ties. ... all American companies must leave Russia immediately."
  • "We propose to create an association, U24, a union of responsible countries that have a strength and consciousness to stop conflict immediately ... within 24 hours. Everything you need to keep the peace and quickly. Such union could provide assistance to those who have experienced natural disasters."
  • "I ask you to watch one video, video of what Russian troops did in our country, in our land." A video then played that contrasted images of Ukrainian cities prior to the invasion with images of devastation, injury, and death. It ended with "close the sky over Ukraine."
  • Zelensky then said in English, "Being the leader of the world means being the leader of peace. ... I am addressing President Biden ... I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace."
(Read more Volodymyr Zelensky stories.)

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