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Zelenskyy to Deliver Virtual Address to Congress as War Continues

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Volodymyr Zelenskyy | Image by Photographer RM

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Members of the United States Congress, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), announced on March 14 that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy would speak virtually to the governing body on Wednesday.

Pelosi and Schumer asked that all members of both chambers attend the virtual meeting. It is expected that the embattled leader will continue to ask for assistance in his country’s fight against the Russian Federation that invaded Ukraine in February.

Pelosi and Schumer sent a letter to all members of the House and Senate Monday encouraging attendance in support of Ukrainian efforts.

“The Congress remains unwavering in our commitment to supporting Ukraine as they face (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s cruel and diabolical aggression, and to passing legislation to cripple and isolate the Russian economy as well as deliver humanitarian, security and economic assistance to Ukraine,” the letter read.

Zelenskyy previously spoke to the Legislature in a March 5 Zoom call in which he asked for immediate military aid and sought help transferring Polish MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine.

President Joe Biden refused the plan even after it was approved by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In defending his decision, President Biden said the move would cause “World War III.”

There is bipartisan support in Congress to provide military aid, with members of both parties calling on the executive branch to reconsider the transfer of the fighter aircraft.

However, many experts, including Benjamin Jensen, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, believe that sending anti-tank and anti-aircraft artillery is of more value than sending aircraft.

On February 26, Biden approved a massive $350 million military aid package that permits tens of thousands of rockets, missiles, and other pieces of defensive weaponry to be transferred from U.S. military bases to the Ukrainian army. On March 12, Biden authorized an additional $200 million in defensive aid.

Though the actual impact of the munitions is impossible to determine, it has been reported that Ukrainian forces fired at least 300 American-made Javelin rockets designed to eliminate tanks and other heavy military equipment.

In addition to transferring defensive weaponry, the United States and numerous global allies have instituted sanctions against Russia, including specific sanctions against many of the wealthiest and most-powerful Russian oligarchs. Many international businesses have either stopped or suspended activity in Russia due to the invasion.

U.S. military experts believe that Putin and his advisers thought the invasion would be a quick-strike operation that would meet little resistance and would not inspire Western nations to risk involvement in the conflict.

However, unexpectedly stiff resistance from the Ukrainian military and ordinary citizens has stalled the invasion, even as Russian forces continue to shell civilian areas. Ukraine claims that Russia has bombed a maternity hospital and a psychiatric ward and has targeted civilians fleeing the battle using agreed-upon escape routes.

Approximately three million Ukrainians have fled the country since the beginning of the invasion, many traveling to Poland, Moldova, and Slovakia. The U.S. Government has pledged $13.6 billion in humanitarian aid and armament so far.

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