Watch Live: Biden details support for Ukraine after Zelenskyy’s plea to Congress

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Watch Live: Biden details support for Ukraine after Zelenskyy's plea to Congress

Washington — President Biden is addressing the nation late Wednesday afternoon to share what the U.S. is doing to assist Ukraine, hours after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded with Congress and the president to approve a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine and to provide more air-defense capabilities.

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Mr. Biden will specifically mention the types and numbers of weapons the U.S. will be providing Ukraine, including unmanned Switchblade drones, CBS News has learned. He will also detail the number of Javelin and Stinger missiles being given to Ukraine. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Zelenskyy’s address “incredibly effective, and said, “I think the message to President Biden is he needs to step up his game.” 

Lawmakers including McConnell want the president to do more, particularly when it comes to providing air defense systems and getting fighter jets to the Ukrainians. The Biden administration has rejected the idea of transferring aircraft because it is concerned Russia might view that as an escalatory move.

Zelenskyy addressed hundreds of members of the House and Senate Wednesday morning, thanking the United States for its help against Russia’s unprovoked invasion but urging Congress and Mr. Biden to do more to save the lives of the Ukrainian people. The Ukrainian president renewed his plea for a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine, or at least more air defense systems and technology like the Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air missile systems. He had a direct message for Mr. Biden: “Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, praised Zelenskyy’s “incredibly powerful message that reaffirmed that the Ukrainian people are standing up against just a horrific military attack by the Russians.”

She said Ukrainians are “standing up for freedom and they deserve our support. They deserve more than we’ve done. They deserve what we can provide much faster than we have.”

“What he showed in particular with the video and what he’s asking for, you know, things like a humanitarian no-fly zone, you know, I think that the world can’t equivocate. And I think that it’s very important. I think his message resonates across party lines,” Cheney continued. “And I think you’re going to see continued and increased pressure on the administration to do more faster.”

Some lawmakers, like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, rejected a no-fly zone but is still calling for more support for Ukraine.

“A no-fly zone increases dramatically the risks of American pilots in direct combat with Russian pilots, and that’s an unacceptable risk of escalation,” Cruz told reporters, adding that there is still “an enormous amount we can do, short of putting American servicemen and women in harm’s way.” He advocates giving Ukraine “lethal weaponry and in particular, fighter jets,” and he criticized President Biden because he “personally vetoed providing the fighter jets that Ukraine is desperately asking for.”  

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Greg Meeks, a Democrat, said Congress will stand with Zelenskyy, as Americans. 

“After seeing and listening to President Zelenskyy, if we don’t come together as Americans, and with our NATO allies, then, that helps Putin. This is about the time for unity,” Meeks said. 

Nancy Cordes contributed reporting.

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