As part of his Wednesday plea for continued weapons sales, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy invoked Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech.
“I have a dream. These words are known to each of you. Today, I can say, I have a need. I need to protect our sky. I need your decision, your help, which means exactly the same. The same you feel when you hear the words, ‘I have a dream,'” Zelenskyy told a joint session of Congress through a translator. He named the S-300 surface-to-air missile system “and other similar systems,” as well as airplanes, that could be included in future weapons sales.
Congress allocated nearly $14 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine in the 2022 full-year appropriations bill that President Joe Biden signed into law Tuesday. (RELATED: Ukrainian Ambassador To Meet With Senators As Congress Mulls $6.4 Billion Aid Package)
“Ukraine is grateful to the U.S. for its overwhelming support, for everything the U.S. government and the U.S. people have done for us,” Zelenskyy said. In addition to the $13.6 billion in the omnibus package, the U.S. has already given the besieged Eastern European nation more than $1.2 billion in military aid. That aid includes anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, as well as armor and small arms.
The Biden administration has received criticism from NATO allies and members of Congress for not taking more of a leading role in brokering weapons shipments. The Polish government requested on March 8 that the U.S. facilitate the transfer of the country’s fleet of Cold War era MiG-29 fighter jets through Ramstein Air Base in Germany to Ukraine. However, the Biden administration rejected the offer, even after Secretary of State Antony Blinken signaled an openness to it during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said on March 8, adding that such a move could draw NATO closer into war with Russia.
In addition to weapons aid, Zelenskyy has repeatedly requested that the U.S. and NATO implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine. That proposal has been roundly rejected, as it would require the enforcing militaries to shoot down Russian planes violating Ukrainian airspace.
“A no-fly zone has become a catchphrase, I’m not sure a lot of people fully understand what that means,” Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman Marco Rubio said on March 6. “It means World War III, starting World War III.”