| 27 February 2024, Tuesday |

Zelenskiy makes ‘desperate plea’ for aircraft in call with U.S. lawmakers

During a video conversation with US lawmakers on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made a “desperate request” for aircraft to battle Russian invaders, according to US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, there is significant bipartisan support in the Democratic-controlled US Congress for $10 billion in immediate military and humanitarian help.

Zelenskiy has repeatedly requested that the West impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, but the United States and its NATO partners have refused, fearing a direct confrontation with Moscow.

The U.S. instead has promised Zelenskiy military aid, and the Ukrainian leader “made a desperate plea for European countries to provide Russian-made planes to Ukraine” during Saturday’s video call, Schumer said.

“These planes are very much needed. And I will do all I can to help the administration to facilitate their transfer,” Schumer said in a statement. More than 280 members of the Senate and House of Representatives took part in the call.

It was not immediately clear how Washington could assist in the transfer of Russian-made aircraft. However, it could facilitate transactions or possibly become involved in payment or providing replacements for allies who give Ukraine jets.

Several Republican members of Congress, including Republican senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, tweeted their support for Zelenskiy during and after the call.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, is working with Schumer and other legislators to get all the assistance President Joe Biden’s administration has requested for Ukraine, Schumer told Zelenskiy, according to a source briefed on the call.

“Together we will get that assistance of over $10 billion in economic, humanitarian, and security assistance to the Ukrainian people quickly,” Schumer said, according to the source.

  • Reuters