Zelenskyy invokes 9/11 and Pearl Harbor in speech to Congress: 'Our country experiences the same thing every day'
Volodymyr Zelenskyyinvoked September 11 and Pearl Harbor in an emotional plea to Congress.
- "In your great history, you have pages that would allow you to understand Ukrainians," he told lawmakers.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy referenced September 11 and Pearl Harbor in an emotional plea on Wednesday morning to Congress for more help in his nation's war against
"In your great history, you have pages that would allow you to understand Ukrainians, understand us now when we need you right now," Zelenskyy told Congress in his address to a room full of lawmakers, according to a simultaneous translation of his remarks that he mostly delivered in Ukrainian. "Remember Pearl Harbor. The terrible morning of December 7, 1941, when your sky was black from the planes attacking you."
He added of the September 11th attacks, "when evil turned your cities, independent territories into battlefields."
Zelenskyy said that those harrowing chapters of American history are playing out every day in his country.
"Our country experiences the same every day," he said. "Right now, every day, every night for three weeks now ... Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death of thousands of people."
Sen. Chris Murphy, who has known Zelenskyy for years, said it made sense that the president connected
"He's right to link this moment to the broader fight for democracy and freedom," Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, told Insider. "What he's saying is true — in the best traditions of America's fight for freedom. This fight with Russia is going to determine how safe global democracy is for the next 50 years."
The Ukrainian president also compared his plea for more assistance to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous, "I have a dream" speech.
"I have a dream, these words are known to each of you," Zelenskyy said. "Today, I can say, I have a need. I need to protect our sky. I need your decision and your help, which means exactly the same you feel when you hear, 'I have a dream.'"
His plea for a no-fly zone, which Western leaders have ruled out, was punctuated by a video full of images of his country in peace and now constantly under fire in the war. One image showed a man walking in the street before an explosion went off nearby. President Joe Biden and other leaders have ruled out a no-fly zone, because it would risk pitting the world's two largest nuclear powers against each other in an active shooting war.
"Today, the Ukrainian people are defending not only Ukraine, we are fighting for the values of Europe and the world," Zelenskyy said, switching to English as he neared the end of his remarks. "That's why today the American people are helping not just Ukraine, but Europe and the world to keep the planet alive to keep justice and history."
Zelenskyy's address comes at a critical moment during Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine. It is estimated that 3 million Ukrainians have fled the country since Russia began its war. But the Pentagon and Western intelligence has also said that the Kremlin did not anticipate the stiff resistance it has encountered as it has tried to move across the country.
The Ukrainian leader has repeatedly invoked the history of the nations he's recently addressed. While addressing the British Parliament, Zelenskyy repeated lines from Prime Minister Winston Churchill's defiant speech during the blitz in World War II.
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