WASHINGTON (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will deliver a virtual address this week to the U.S. Congress, part of a series of high-profile speeches from a leader working to rally support as the Russian invasion of his country intensifies.
Zelenskyy will speak Wednesday to members of the House and Senate, an event that will be livestreamed for the public. It follows an address he delivered last week to the U.K. Parliament that carried echoes of Winston Churchill’s stirring words during World War II. On Tuesday, Zelenskyy is scheduled to deliver a speech to Canada’s parliament.
“It’s such a privilege to have this leader of this country, where these people are fighting for their democracy and our democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday during an event at the Brooklyn Bridge with New York lawmakers.
Pelosi said Zelenskyy asked for the meeting when they spoke at the end of last week, and lawmakers are “thrilled” to have him address Congress.
The talk comes as the Ukrainians are fighting for their country’s survival in the escalating war as Russian President Vladimir Putin intensifies his assault, including airstrikes on the capital, Kyiv. Zelenskyy has pleaded with the U.S. for more air support, including the transfer of planes from neighboring Poland. Civilians in Ukraine are taking up arms to hold back Putin’s regime, but the war has launched a mass exodus of more then 2.8 million people from Ukraine.
“The Congress, our country and the world are in awe of the people of Ukraine,” said Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in a statement Monday announcing the address.
They said all lawmakers are invited to the talk that will be delivered via video at the U.S. Capitol. It comes after Congress recently approved $13.6 billion in emergency military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
Biden is expected to sign a big spending bill containing Ukraine aid into law on Tuesday, but lawmakers expect to hear more from Zelenskyy about his country’s immediate needs. During Pelosi’s call last week, Zelenskyy said his country would need help rebuilding from the war.
“We have to do more in terms of meeting the needs of some of the 2.7 million refugees,” she said.
She said of the Ukrainians, “They’re fighting for democracy writ large.”
In their statement Monday, the congressional leaders said Congress “remains unwavering in our commitment to supporting Ukraine as they face Putin’s cruel and diabolical aggression.”
Earlier this month, Zelenskyy spoke by video with House and Senate lawmakers, delivering a desperate plea for more military aid.
The Ukrainian president has specifically sought air support to battle the Russians, including the transfer of Soviet-era MiGs from Poland, but the Pentagon has closed the door on that idea for now, worried it could escalate U.S. involvement.
Schumer said Monday that it’s among the highest honors of any Congress to welcome foreign heads of state, “but it is nearly unheard of in modern times that we hear from a leader fighting for his life, fighting for his country’s survival, and fighting to preserve the very idea of democracy.”
Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price in New York contributed to this report.