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Biden announces more aid for Ukraine following Zelenskyy’s address to Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Joe Biden said the U.S. is ramping up its aid to Ukraine following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s plea to Congress for more help Wednesday morning. But President Biden did not directly address calls for fighter jets and a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Biden announced an additional $800 million in assistance for Ukraine that will be used for guns, ammunition, and other weapons, according to the White House.

“We’re going to give Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead,” said Biden.

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Zelenskyy pleaded for more air assistance during his address to Congress and pointed to Pearl Harbor and the September 11 terror attacks as examples of when the U.S. also faced threats from the skies.

“In your great history, you have pages that would allow you to understand Ukrainians,” Zelenskyy said through a translator during the virtual address. “Is this a lot to ask for? To create a no-fly zone over Ukraine to save people?”

Photos: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses Congress

Biden did not answer questions about Zelenskyy’s request to help get warplanes into Ukraine after the Biden administration previously rejected an offer to send Polish fighter jets.

During his address, Zelenskyy showed a powerful video to Congress showing images of children and families being injured and killed in Russian attacks.

In his remarks, Zelenskyy made this direct plea to President Biden.

“You are the leader of the nation,” said Zelenskyy. “I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.”

Read: Russia attacks Ukraine: Mariupol theater used as shelter bombed

Members of Congress generally agree with the Biden administration’s decision not to support a NATO no-fly zone over Ukraine because of national security concerns.

“As of right now, I support the President’s decision not to go down that road and I know that is hard for a lot of people to hear at home and disappointing to the Ukrainian people,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Instead, Republican leadership in Congress wants to help Ukraine set up its own no-fly zone and give them Polish warplanes needed to man their skies.

“I am urging the Biden administration to reconsider sending the MiGs (military aircraft) as well as additional air defense capability,” said Graham. “Bottom line, while NATO no-fly zone seems to be a bridge too far for me and the administration, there is bipartisan support for sending a package that includes sending fighter jets and air defense systems to Ukraine immediately so that we can have a Ukrainian no-fly zone.”

Read: Zelenskyy address: How many times have world leaders spoken before Congress?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) echoed calls to get more military air assistance to Ukraine.

“President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine are showing the world incredible bravery and resilience,” McConnell tweeted. “America cannot stay behind the curve. We must urgently get Ukraine more overdue lethal aid and air defense systems so they can keep up their fight for sovereignty and freedom.”

Zelenskyy also called on the U.S. to continue to impose strong sanctions on Russia.

“I call on you to do more,” said Zelenskyy. “New packages of sanctions are needed constantly every week until the Russian military machine stops.”

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