Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a video address to senators and members of the House of Representatives gathered in the Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 16, 2022. (Sarah Silbiger/Reuters)

In a direct plea to Congress Wednesday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky asked for the U.S. to enforce a no-fly zone over his country, inviting outside military intervention to stop the bloodshed from the war waged by Russia.

“Remember Pearl Harbor…Remember September 11th…Our country experiences this every day, right now, at this moment, every night for three weeks now,” Zelensky said, referencing the historical attacks on American soil.

Such a proposal to “close the skies over Ukraine” would require the U.S. to shoot down Russian aircraft over the territory, risking an escalation of the regional conflict into an international one, which the American public largely opposes, according to recent polls.

In addition to this demand, Zelensky urged the creation of a new union of “responsible countries” that have the “strength and consciousness to stop conflict immediately,” by imposing sanctions and providing weapons and humanitarian support. The goal of such an organization would be to “keep peace” and “save the world and save lives,” he said.

“If such an alliance existed today, we could save many lives in our country,” he claimed.

Zelensky proposed that the U.S. sanction all politicians in the Russian Federation who are still financially or politically linked to those “responsible for aggression in Ukraine.” Making an appeal to members of Congress and the businesses in their districts, he said that American companies should leave the Russian market immediately. All American ports should be closed for Russian goods, he said, as “peace is more important than income.”

Since the assault on Ukraine began, the Biden administration has announced multiple tranches of sanctions, first as a deterrent mechanism but now as hefty punishment designed to crush the Russian economy and pressure Putin to abandon his militaristic ambitions.

Zelensky then played a stirring video depicting the horror of Ukraine’s destruction under Russian invasion which began on February 24th, with graphic casualties and death.

Here’s the video Zelenskiy played for U.S. lawmakers today (via @joshscampbell).pic.twitter.com/UgBhdqX5Ql

— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) March 16, 2022

“I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the death,” he said. “President Biden, you are the leader of our great nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world. being the leader of the world means being the leader of peace.”

By staying behind to command the country as it navigates existential crisis, Zelensky has been regarded as a national hero, earning the praise of western countries and their people. He has managed to stay alive, evading assassination attempts while presiding over a fiery Ukrainian resistance that has surprised and frustrated Russian forces, which Putin expected to make sweeping gains in record time.

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