Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska appealed to U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday to provide more help to her country as it struggles against a five-month-long Russian invasion, saying weapons could help assure a “joint great victory.”
“We remain completely broken when our world is destroyed by war. Tens of thousands of such worlds have been destroyed in Ukraine,” she said through a translator, in an emotional 15-minute speech to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
Zelenska, the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, showed videos of children she said had been wounded or killed, including a three-year-old boy now in Germany learning how to use prosthetic limbs.
“How many children like him are there in Ukraine? How many families like this may still be destroyed by war? These are Russia’s ‘Hunger Games,'” she said in reference to a series of novels and movies in which people hunt one another.
“I am asking for weapons, weapons that would not be used to wage a war on somebody else’s land, but to protect one’s home and the right to wake up alive in that home,” Zelenska said.
“The answer is right here in Washington, D.C. … Help us to stop this terror against Ukrainians and this will be our joint great victory in the name of life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness,” she said.
The United States has provided $8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the war began, including $2.2 billion in the last month, the Biden administration says. Members of Congress responded warmly and said they were ready to authorize more.
“They’re not asking for U.S. soldiers. They are asking for U.S. weapons. I think now’s the time to put together another aid package to go into 2023 with a supply of advanced weapons and economic assistance to stay in the fight,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said after the speech.
“What we saw here was human tragedy right before our eyes, innocent people murdered. Why? Because they are Ukrainians. That’s genocide. That’s what happened in World War Two. And that needs to be stopped,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said.
Ukrainian President had said he expected “significant results” from his wife’s meetings in Washington. She met on Tuesday at the White House with President Joe Biden and U.S. first lady Jill Biden.
Russia calls its action in Ukraine a “special military operation” to ensure its own security. Zelenskiy has led his country in standing up to Moscow.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Rose Horowitch, additional reporting by Katharine Jackson; Editing by Nick Zieminski