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Ukraine President Zelenskyy requests more lethal aid during virtual meeting with US senators

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked Congress for more lethal aid, more planes, more sanctions and to shut down Russian oil exports during a virtual video call with lawmakers Saturday as Washington weighs more aid to help Ukraine fight off a brutal Russian invasion. 

Zelenskyy spoke on a Zoom video call with more than 280 senators and House members. He wore a military green T-shirt, spoke aside a Ukrainian flag and appealed to the U.S. lawmakers for more help.

“He spoke from the heart,” Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said on Fox News Channel, adding that Zelenskyy also requested to close the skies with a no-fly zone.  

.RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR: LIVE UPDATES

The meeting comes as NATO rejected a Zelenskyy request for a no-fly zone over Ukraine to provide air cover for the Ukrainian people. Zelenskyy slammed the decision, but NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that having alliance planes over Ukrainian airspace could spark a new world war. 

A Senate source told Fox News Digital that in addition to the no-fly zone discussion, Zelenskyy asked for more planes and expressed concern that the United States was standing in the way of other NATO nations sending planes. 

Zelenskyy said Poland is ready to send planes, specifically Russian-made MiGs which Ukrainians can fly, but the U.S. had not signed off because of fear it would be seen as an escalation, a source told Fox News. The problem, the source said, is there are no clear parameters for what is an act of war, what triggers Article 5 provision of the NATO alliance that could bring all allies into a war with Russia. 

“President Zelenskyy made a desperate plea for Eastern European countries to provide Russian-made planes to Ukraine,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. “These planes are very much needed. And I will do all I can to help the administration to facilitate their transfer.” 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also said the U.S. is standing in the way of “other NATO nations sending MiG’s,” in a video he posted after the Zelenskyy call,

On the video call, Zelenskyy called the Russians “devils,” according to Daines, and described the horrors of the war and how Russians are killing and shelling civilians and actively going after nuclear facilities.

He told senators that he needs more lethal aid to push back on Russian President Vladimir Putin, a Senate source said. He also demanded the U.S. cut off Visa and Mastercard in Russia and that the U.S. must embargo Russian oil.

“President Zelenskyy made it clear that Putin’s forces are barbarous, and that Ukraine needs immediate resources to help control airspace for defense and humanitarian purposes,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., told Fox News Digital. “He also expressed that it is imperative that the West help.”

The Ukrainian president also told senators, “If you had started sanctions months ago, there would not have been war,” according to a source within the Senate.

US SENATORS TO MEET VIRTUALLY WITH UKRAINE PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., reacted to that comment on Fox News Channel and explained that sanctions work best when they are in coordination with allies, but the problem was U.S. allies did not believe Putin was going to invade, like the U.S. was insisting. 

Kaine said he had never seen “a wider gulf between the US and our allies” prior to the invasion when it came to Putin’s intentions. 

“Yes, earlier sanctions might have worked better,” Kaine told Fox News Channel. “But we weren’t on the same page until the invasion happened.” 

Zelenskyy said during the call that Ukraine has a strong relationship with Poland and the humanitarian assistance and military assistance flows easily. 

Earlier Saturday, Zelenskyy urged Russia and Belarus to cooperate on providing humanitarian corridors, so civilians can escape the war zone.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to female flight attendants in comments broadcast on state television on Saturday, March 5, 2022. (Image: Reuters Video)

“Humanitarian corridors must work today,” Zelenskyy said in a video posted on Instagram. “To save people. Women, children, the elderly. To give food and medicine to those who remain.”

The two main corridors should allow citizens in the cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha to flee as the fighting intensifies.

Meantime, the Biden administration is requesting at least $10 billion in new money to provide aid to Ukraine amid Putin’s war against the nation. The aid would go for additional humanitarian, security, and economic assistance in Ukraine and the neighboring region in the coming days and weeks, according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Smoke rise after shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, March 4, 2022.(AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the House would take up the emergency Ukraine request next week as part of a larger government spending bill that Congress needs to pass by March 11 or else risk a government shutdown. 

And on the video call Saturday, Schumer reassured Zelenskyy that he and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell were working “very hard” in a bipartisan way to get the $10 billion economic, humanitarian and security assistance to the Ukrainian people “quickly.”

Fox News’ Peter Aitken and Tyler Olson contributed to this report. 

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