Zelenskyy invokes MLK's 'dream' in appeal to Congress: 'I have a need'

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy referenced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech during a virtual address before Congress on Wednesday, as he appealed to lawmakers for help protecting his country and its people.

Zelenskyy said that “Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death” with bombs and drone strikes, and said Ukraine requires assistance from the U.S.

“I have a dream. These words are known to each of you,” Zelenskyy said through a translator. “Today I can say I have a need. I need to protect our sky. I need your decision, your help.”

Zelenskyy first requested a no-fly zone over Ukraine, something that Democrats and Republicans have generally opposed, out of fear that it would lead to World War 3.

“If this is too much to ask, we offer an alternative. You know what kind of defense systems we need,” Zelenskyy continued, calling for “aircrafts that can help Ukraine, help Europe.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., introduces Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to speak to the U.S. Congress by video at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2022.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

The Biden administration had rejected a plan which would have sent Polish MiG fighter jets to a U.S. base in Germany to then be transported to Ukraine. The administration had previously agreed to a general plan to give Poland American planes after Poland gave the MiGs to Ukraine.

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At the end of his address, Zelenskyy spoke in English, delivering a message directly to President Biden.

“You are the leader of the nation, of your great nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world,” he said. “Being the leader of the world means being the leader of peace.”

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