According to a person familiar with the meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked the US for help in establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine during a Zoom call with US legislators, reported CNN.
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Zelensky called US senators for more sanctions on Russia, including on energy, as well as increased military aid to Ukrainian soldiers. He praised the US for its assistance thus far, but his general message was that his country requires greater assistance as it fights Russia’s aggression.
Another senator on the phone told CNN that Zelensky called for a ban on Russian oil imports, the suspension of all commercial transactions — such as Visa and Mastercard — and urged parliamentarians to assist Ukraine in acquiring more planes that Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly. He stated that they will fight and fly, but he requires the aircraft.
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The call, which began around 9:30 a.m. ET, lasted one hour.
According to someone else on the conversation, dozens of parliamentarians unmuted themselves at the end of the call to thank Zelensky and express their support, with some saying “Slava Ukraini,” CNN reported. The Ukrainian president was clearly moved by the gesture, according to someone on the call.
His message was conveyed amid ongoing discussions between the US and European allies about giving Ukraine with fighter jet aircraft from Eastern European countries, according to five sources familiar with the discussions.
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Officials believe there is disagreement among countries on whether or not individual countries should assist Ukraine with aircraft, given the hazards involved. The United States and NATO are opposed to establishing a no-fly zone in Ukraine, warning that such a step may lead to “full-fledged war in Europe.” Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on Saturday that countries who enforce such a no-fly zone would be deemed combatants.