Zelensky Requests Additional Lethal Aid, Oil Sanctions in Call

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talks during an interview with Reuters in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022. (Umit Bektas/Reuters)

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky made requests for lethal aid and additional sanctions against Russia in a Zoom call with members of Congress on Saturday, according to multiple reports.

Zelensky requested planes that Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly, one senator on the call told CNN. Zelensky also called on the U.S. to ban imports of Russian oil and block usage of Visa and Mastercard in Russia, according to that senator.

Zelensky also discussed the issue of a no-fly zone over Ukraine on the call, a Senate source told Fox News. However, the NATO alliance has already rejected imposing a no-fly zone because the move would obligate NATO nations to enforce it, thus bringing them into direct contact with Russian forces.

“Allies agree we should not have NATO planes operating in Ukrainian air space or NATO troops on Ukraine’s territory,” NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday.

Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) advocated sending lethal aid to Ukraine following the call with Zelensky.

“Zelensky’s message is simple: ‘close the skies or give us planes,’” Sasse said in a statement. “Let’s be clear-eyed about our options: A No-Fly Zone means sending American pilots into combat against Russian jets and air defenses — in a battle between nuclear powers that could spiral out of control quickly. But Americans should absolutely send Ukrainians planes, helicopters, and UAVs.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said he will “do all I can” to help transfer planes to Ukraine, in a statement following the call.

“President Zelenskyy made a desperate plea for Eastern European countries to provide Russian-made planes to Ukraine,” Schumer said. “I will do all I can to help the administration to facilitate their transfer.”

As for banning imports of Russian oil, while various members of Congress have said they’d support such a move, the Biden administration has shied away from it.

“We don’t have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press conference on Friday. “And that would raise prices at the gas pump for the American people, around the world, because it would reduce the supply available.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is also a violist, and has served in the Israeli Defense Forces.