Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is scheduled to address lawmakers from the House and Senate in a virtual address on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced in a letter on Monday.
“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 Zelenskyy of Ukraine on Wednesday, March 16th at 9:00 a.m,” Pelosi and Schumer said in the Monday letter to lawmakers.
The virtual address will take be held in an auditorium inside the Capitol Visitor Center on Capitol Hill, according to the letter. Congressional members will be the only people allowed to attend in person. A live stream is also scheduled for the event.
“The Congress remains unwavering in our commitment to supporting Ukraine as they face 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 said.
“We look forward to the privilege of welcoming President Zelenskyy’s address to the House and Senate and to convey our support to the people of Ukraine as they bravely defend democracy,” the two congressional leaders added.
Despite massive levels of financial assistance approved for Ukraine in recent weeks, one area of controversy involves approving U.S. jet fighters to provide defense for Ukraine.
A group of more than 40 Republican senators urged Biden in a letter on Thursday to “act without delay” to provide fighter jets to help defend the people of Ukraine.
The letter, led by Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, included most of the Senate’s GOP members, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“While we commend the lethal aid that your Administration has sent to Ukraine thus far, we strongly disagree with your decision to delay and deny Poland the option to transfer fighter jets to Ukraine,” the senators wrote.
“Your Administration champions the $1 billion in defense articles provided to Ukraine over the past 13 months and has definitively stated there are no restrictions in your current suite of authorities to adequately respond to Russia’s lawless and bloody invasion of Ukraine,” they added.
“We implore you to direct your Department of Defense to facilitate the transfer of aircraft, air defense systems, and other capabilities by and through our NATO partners immediately,” they said.
The event also comes after a virtual event that involved approximately 300 members of Congress earlier this month.
Senate sources said Zelensky pinned partial blame for Russia’s invasion into Ukraine on President Joe Biden’s refusal to enact sanctions against Russia before the invasion. The Daily Wire reported:
Zelensky told Senators that if the U.S. “had started sanctions months ago, there would not have been war.”
Reuters noted just a few days before Russia invaded Ukraine that Biden was “refus[ing] to unleash sanctions on Russia” until Russia invaded, despite numerous officials, including Zelensky, saying that the sanctions could stop the invasion from happening.
“You tell me 100% that there will be war in a few days’ time. What are you waiting for?” Zelensky said before the invasion. “We will not need your sanctions after there is a bombardment, or after our state is shot at, or if we have no more borders, we do not have an economy, or parts of our state is occupied.”