Volodymyr Zelensky to Address Congress as Ukraine Leader Pushes for No Fly-Zone

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will make a virtual address to Congress on Wednesday, seeking to rally U.S. support as Russia steps up its onslaught on his country.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer invited all members of the House and Senate to Zelensky's "special presentation" which will be screened in the Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium at 9 a.m. on March 16.

it is a rare honor for a foreign leader to be given the opportunity to address both houses of Congress.

"The Congress, our country and the world are in awe of the people of Ukraine, who have shown extraordinary courage, resilience and determination in the face of Russia's unprovoked, vicious, and illegal war," the letter from Pelosi and Schumer stated.

"As war rages on in Ukraine, it is with great respect and admiration for the Ukrainian people that we invite all Members of the House and Senate to attend a Virtual Address to the United States Congress delivered by President Volodymyr Zelensky."

"The Congress remains unwavering in our commitment to supporting Ukraine as they face [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's cruel and diabolical aggression, and to passing legislation to cripple and isolate the Russian economy as well as deliver humanitarian, security and economic assistance to Ukraine," the letter adds.

Pelosi and Schumer said they looked forward to having Zelensky address the House and Senate and that they continue to support the people of Ukraine "as they bravely defend democracy."

Zelensky has repeatedly called for NATO to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

"If you do not close our sky, it is only a matter of time before Russian missiles fall on your territory, on NATO territory, on the homes of NATO citizens," Zelensky said in his latest video update on the war.

The Biden administration has opposed setting up a no-fly zone in Ukraine or sending U.S. troops to fight in Ukraine, arguing that shooting down Russian planes could lead to the war in Ukraine escalating worldwide.

"That is definitely escalatory, that would potentially put us into a place where we're in a military conflict with Russia. That is not something the president wants to do," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on March 6.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said on Sunday he would support declaring a no-fly zone over Ukraine if Putin authorized the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine.

Zelensky's speech to Congress will take place days after he spoke to British politicians virtually.

During his address to the U.K. parliament, the first time a foreign leader has addressed British lawmakers in the House of Commons chamber, Zelensky repeated his calls for a no-fly zone.

"Please make sure our Ukrainian skies are safe," he said.

The Ukrainian president has had scathing words for NATO, suggesting the alliance would be responsible for the deaths in his country as the lack of a no-fly zone has effectively "given the green light for the bombardment of Ukrainian cities and villages."

 Volodymyr Zelensky congress
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on at a press conference for selected media at his official residence the Maryinsky Palace on March 3,2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Laurent Van der Stockt for Le Monde/Getty Images