Ukraine’s first lady urges US to provide additional military aid
Washington, Jul 20 (EFE).- Ukraine’s first lady appeared here Wednesday before Congress and urged the United States to provide additional military assistance, saying that aid is needed to combat Russian aggression.
“I’m asking for something I would never want to ask. I am asking for weapons. Weapons that would not be used to wage a war on somebody else’s land, but to protect one’s home and the right to wake up alive in that home,” Olena Zelenska said on Capitol Hill.
Her speech came on the same day Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the territorial objectives of his country’s so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine have changed.
In remarks to state media, Lavrov said the Russian military’s goals include not only the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine but also other areas of the neighboring country.
The head of Russian diplomacy said that shift in geographical aims was due to the West’s having supplied Ukrainian forces with long-range weaponry, including eight High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
In parts of Ukraine controlled by government forces, no weapons can be allowed that “pose a direct threat to our territory or the territory of the republics that declared independence or those that wish to determine their future independently,” Lavrov told RIA Novosti.
During her speech, Zelenska asked for air-defense systems so that Russian airstrikes do not “kill children in their strollers” and destroy entire families.
Ukrainians simply want to go back to a normal life, she said.
“Will my son be able to return to his school in the fall? I don’t know, like millions of mothers in Ukraine. Will my daughter be able to go to university at the beginning of the academic year and experience student life? I cannot answer. We would have answers if we had air-defense systems,” the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
“And the answer is here in Washington,” Zelenska said, acknowledging that the US has already provided a great deal of military aid to her country since the invasion began on Feb. 24 but noting that “unfortunately the war is not over yet.”
Images providing a glimpse of the destruction in her homeland and the loss of innocent life accompanied her speech.
One video showed footage of a 4-year-girl named Lisa pushing a stroller; the first lady said she had met that child while recording a video over the Christmas holidays.
A subsequent photo showed that stroller knocked over, with Zelenska explaining that Lisa was among nearly two-dozen people killed in a Russian missile strike on the west-central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia.
“An unprovoked invasive terrorist war is being waged against my country, Russia is destroying our people,” the first lady said.
Wednesday’s rare appearance before Congress by a foreign first lady was the highlight of Zelenska’s visit to Washington, where she had earlier met on Monday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
On Tuesday, Zelenska met with US counterpart Jill Biden and attended an event at the Victims of Communism Museum, where she accepted a dissident human rights award on behalf of the people of Ukraine.
Also that day, the US threatened to impose additional, more severe sanctions on Russia if it goes through with its plan to illegally annex Ukrainian territory, vowing to act rapidly in coordination with its Western allies.
Washington, which has committed around $7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion, says its support for the Eastern European country will remain unwavering. EFE