Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy implored U.S. lawmakers on Saturday to do more to force Russian leader Vladimir Putin to the negotiating table and end the war on his country — including the establishment of a no-fly zone, additional direct aid and a ban on oil imports from Moscow.
In a private Zoom call with Senate and House members, Zelenskyy expressed appreciation for the actions taken so far by the U.S. and NATO allies as Russia continues assaulting Ukraine, including sanctions and weapons transfers, according to five people who participated in the call. But Zelenskyy made a direct appeal for more, those people said, including planes, drones and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
The Ukrainian leader also urged the U.S. to ban Russian oil imports — a cause with bipartisan support on the Hill but plenty of domestic political volatility — and target its sanctions regime directly at the Russian people, the people said. He called on lawmakers to pressure eastern-flank NATO partners to approve the transfer of planes that Ukrainian pilots are already trained to fly.
An emotional Zelenskyy told participants on the call, who numbered more than 300, that it might be the last time they see him alive. He sought to tie Russia’s war on Ukraine directly to European security by noting that Ukraine has 15 nuclear plants, contending that continued bloodshed could cause a nuclear disaster with ramifications for the entire continent. [Continue reading…]
Two Republican senators are facing criticism after tweeting photos of a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy even though participating lawmakers were told to not share pictures on social media while it was in progress.
Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Steve Daines of Montana posted pictures of Zelenskyy on their Twitter accounts during the Zoom meeting Saturday morning, writing that they were on a call with him.
Democratic Reps. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and Jason Crow of Colorado criticized the senators on Twitter.
Phillips noted that the “Ukrainian ambassador very intentionally asked each of us on the Zoom to NOT share anything on social media during the meeting to protect the security of President Zelenskyy.” [Continue reading…]