LISA MASKARA and AAMER MADHANI

WASHINGTON (AP) – President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday recalled memories of Pearl Harbor and the September 11 terrorist attacks in a fiery live video asking Congress to send more aid to Ukraine’s fight against Russia. Lawmakers stood and welcomed, and President Joe Biden later announced that the U.S. was sending more anti-aircraft, anti-armor weapons and drones.

Biden also said Russian President Vladimir Putin was a war criminal – his strongest conviction – the day after the Senate unanimously asked for an international investigation into Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine.

At a time of high drama in the Capitol, Zelensky was broadcasting his speech live in front of an enthusiastic audience of lawmakers on a giant screen, acknowledging from the outset that he had repeatedly sought to “close the skies” for air strikes across his country. may not happen. Biden has opposed this, as well as US or NATO permission to send MiG fighters from Poland, as it threatens a wider war with nuclear Putin.

Instead, Zelensky asked for other military assistance and tougher economic sanctions to stop Russia’s attack, putting his country’s fate at stake.

Wearing his now branded army green T-shirt, Zelinsky began his remarks about “Americans, friends” with reference to the destruction the United States suffered in 1941 when Japan bombed a naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and attacks on the World Trade territory in 2001. The Center and the Pentagon are militants who have taken away passenger planes to crash into symbols of Western democracy and the economy.

“Remember Pearl Harbor? … Remember September 11? ” Zelensky asked. “Our country is going through the same thing every day.”

To stop the invasion, Zelensky told U.S. lawmakers, “I urge you to do more.”

Approaching a three-week mark in the escalating war, Zelensky used the global scene to ask allied leaders to help stop Russia’s invasion of his country. The young actor, who became president, has become a heroic figure at the heart of what many consider to be the greatest security threat to Europe since World War II. Nearly 3 million refugees have fled Ukraine due to the spread of violence, the quickest outcome to date.

Biden, who said he listened to Zelensky’s speech at the White House, did not respond directly to criticism that the United States should do more for Ukrainians. But he said: “We are united in our aversion to Putin’s corrupt offensive, and we will continue to defend them as they fight for their freedom, their democracy, their survival.”

Later, leaving unrelated to the event, he said of Putin: “He is a war criminal.” – the sharpest condemnation of Putin and Russia’s actions by an American official after the invasion of Ukraine.

Biden noted that Russia bombed hospitals and held doctors hostage.

At the White House, Biden described the new aid he was ready to announce. He said the U.S. would send an additional $ 800 million in military aid, which is $ 2 billion in such aid since he took office more than a year ago. About $ 1 billion in aid was sent last week. Biden said the new aid includes 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 100 grenade launchers, 20 million small arms ammunition, grenade launchers and mortars, and an unspecified number of drones.

“We are going to give Ukraine weapons to fight and defend through all the difficult days ahead,” Biden said.

Speaking from the capital of Kiev, Zelensky showed a crowded hall of lawmakers a visual video of the destruction and devastation that his country suffered in the war, along with emotional scenes of casualties among the civilian population.

“We need you right now,” he said.

Lawmakers applauded him standing before and after his brief remarks, which Zelensky began in Ukrainian through an interpreter, but then switched to English in a sincere appeal to help stop the bloodshed.

“I don’t see meaning in life if it can’t stop death,” he said.

Among the new military equipment approved by Biden are 100 Switchblade 300 drones that Zelensky was looking for, according to a US official familiar with the decision. The official was not authorized to publicly comment on the sensitive issue and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Lawmakers, with rare unity, were excited by the speeches. Senator Angus King, Independent State of Maine. said that during Zelensky’s speech there was a “collective breath hold” in the room. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said, “If you haven’t watched this video and felt that not only the United States but also the free countries of the world have a responsibility to unite in support of Ukraine, you’ve closed your eyes.” Dick Durbin called the appeal heartfelt and said: “I’m on board with a letterhead to check for sanctions, all we can do to stop this Russian offensive.”

Near the Capitol, protesters held a large sign that lawmakers saw as they returned to their offices. “Non-Flying Zone = World War III”.

The Ukrainian president is no stranger to Congress, which played a central role in Donald Trump’s first impeachment. As president, Trump was accused of refusing security assistance to Ukraine when he pressured Zelensky to dig up dirt on Biden’s political rival. On Wednesday, Zelensky spoke with many of the same Republican lawmakers who have renounced impeachment or condemned Trump, but are among the bipartisan foundations in Congress that now require military assistance to Ukraine.

He thanked the American people for their support, even as he urged Biden to do more.

“You are the leader of the nation. I want you to be the leader of the world, “he said.” To be the leader of the world is to be the leader of the world. “

This was Zelensky’s last visit as he uses the great Western legislatures in his appeals for help. Last week in the British House of Commons, he referred to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, asking “to be or not to be Ukraine”, and told Congress that people in his country want the same thing as Americans: “democracy, independence, freedom”.

He often seeks more help to save his young democracy than world leaders have promised.

Biden insisted that there would be no American troops in Ukraine.

“The direct conflict between NATO and Russia is the third world war,” he said.

Zelensky apparently acknowledged the political reality beyond certain limits.

“Is it too much to ask to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine?” He asked, answering his own question. “If it’s too much, we offer an alternative,” he said, calling for weapons systems to help fight Russian aviation.

Congress has already approved $ 13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and recently announced security aid will come from the allocation, which is part of a broader bill Biden signed on Tuesday.

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Associated Press authors Zick Miller, Mary Claire Ilonik, Ellen Nickmeier, Farnush Amir, Kevin Frecking, Alan Fram, Noman Merchant and Chris Megerian and Ruff Caserte in Brussels, Jill Lawless in London, Aritz Parra in Madrid in Madrid and Jolly this report. .

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