White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the administration “continues to believe that a no-fly zone would be escalatory, could prompt a war with Russia.”
“I don’t believe there’s a lot of advocates calling for that at this point in time from Capitol Hill, but we certainly understand and recognize that is still a call from President Zelenskyy,” Psaki continued.
Zelenskyy on Wednesday said that if a no-fly zone was “too much to ask for,” the United States should supply Ukraine with the S-300 missile system, airplanes and other weapons to help Ukrainians defend themselves from Russian attacks.
Using the words of the “I Have a Dream” speech by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Zelenskyy said: “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.’”
Zelenskyy closed out the speech speaking directly to President Joe Biden, even though Biden was not present for the virtual address.
“As the leader of my nation, I’m addressing President Biden. You are the leader of the nation, of your great nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace. Thank you. Slava Ukraini.”
The words mean, “Glory to Ukraine.”
Zelenskyy’s remarks had barely ended by the time lawmakers began reacting on Twitter. Members of both parties said they were moved by Zelenskyy’s speech and the video, and pledged to help Ukraine fight the war.
Many were nonspecific about how the United States should aid Ukraine.
“I was moved by the remarks of President Zelenskyy this morning,” Virginia Democrat and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner tweeted. “Virginia stands with Ukraine as they navigate the terror of this senseless invasion.”
Others called for more targeted actions, including providing the military tools Zelenskyy requested.
“The Biden administration must respond with more lethal assistance, including the airplanes, anti-air weapons, and tightened sanctions immediately,” Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who co-chairs the Senate Ukraine Caucus, tweeted. “If they won’t, then Congress must again act in a bipartisan way with more help.”
In a statement, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., called for an increased U.S. leadership role.
“President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people’s bravery and resolve has shown the world that Ukraine will do everything they can to stand up to Putin. But today, President Zelenskyy once again made clear that the Ukrainian people need our help, including by ensuring ‘the Russians do not receive a single penny’ to fund the killing of Ukrainians.
“America can lead the rest of the world in answering Zelenskyy’s call by imposing secondary sanctions on the entirety of Russia’s financial sector,” Toomey continued. “These sanctions would effectively prohibit foreign banks anywhere in the world, under the threat of U.S. sanctions, from making payments to Russian banks, including for oil and gas. Stopping these funds from flowing to Putin’s war machine is a critical lifeline for the Ukrainian people.