The full Senate and the 80 member House Ukrainian Caucus were invited to participate in a Zoom call with Ukrainian President Zelensky on Saturday morning. The call was in advance of Congressional debate on a $10 billion emergency funding package request for humanitarian aid and security assistance. It was the first time American lawmakers were able to speak with him since Russia invaded Ukraine ten days ago.
Earlier this week members of Congress met with other Ukrainian officials. Ukrainian ambassador Oksana Markarova met with Senators and told them that Ukraine needs more supplies to fight the Russian military. Senator Steve Daines said that at least 260 people were on today’s Zoom call. Daines described that call on FNC during an interview with Neil Cavuto saying Zelensky wore a military green t-shirt with a Ukrainian flag behind him. The senator said he has been on plenty of Zoom calls but this was one he will never forget.
— Steve Daines (@SteveDaines) March 5, 2022
Zelensky pushed for a no-fly zone and criticized NATO’s decision to refuse his request. Yesterday NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that decision and said that NATO members have concerns that a no-fly zone over Ukraine could provide an excuse for Putin to start World War III. Zelensky also got in a dig at the Biden administration’s slow response to put sanctions in place.
A Senate source tells Fox News Digital that the no-fly zone came up during the meeting and Zelenskyy asked for more planes. He also demanded the U.S. cut off Visa and Mastercard in Russia.
Zelenskyy described the horrors of the war and how Russians are killing and shelling civilians. He told senators that he needs more lethal aid to push back on Russian President Vladimir Putin, the source said.
Zelenskyy also told senators that the US must embargo Russian oil. He also said that Belarus, Lukaschenko doesn’t control the troops, Russia is ordering them.
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.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 5, 2022
Zelensky noted Ukraine’s strong relationship with Poland and said that humanitarian aid and military assistance flows freely from there into Ukraine. One point he made as he requested more assistance is that if Putin isn’t stopped in Ukraine, he will be emboldened to continue on to invading other countries, with Poland and Lithuania being next on his list.
Lawmakers will begin discussing emergency aid for Ukraine next week.
Meantime, the Biden administration is requesting at least $10 billion in new money to provide aid to Ukraine amid Russian President Vladimir 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).
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.
Around the same time that this call was being reported, the State Department advised Americans to leave Russia immediately. The State Department advised Americans to consider leaving Russia last week. Now it says Americans are at risk of “potential harassment by Russian security officials and of possible issues with accessing money within the country.” Putin said he would consider any third-party country participating in a no-fly zone as entering the war.