The Ukrainian first lady, Olena Zelenska, appealed to US lawmakers on Tuesday to provide more help to her country as it struggles against a five-month-long Russian invasion she called “Russia’s Hunger Games”, saying US weapons could help assure a “joint great victory”.
“We remain completely broken when our world is destroyed by war. Tens of thousands of such worlds have been destroyed in Ukraine,” she said, through a translator, in an emotional 15-minute speech to members of the House and Senate.
The wife of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, showed videos of children she said had been wounded or killed, including a three-year-old boy now learning to use prosthetic limbs.
“How many children like him are there in Ukraine? How many families like this may still be destroyed by war? These are Russia’s Hunger Games,” she said, in reference to a series of novels and movies in which people hunt one another.
“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.
“I’m asking for weapons, weapons that could not be used to wage a war on somebody else’s land, but to protect one’s home and the right to live a life in them. I’ve asked for air defense systems in order for rockets … not to kill children in their strollers, in order for rockets not to destroy children’s homes and kill entire families.”
Zelenskiy said he expected “significant results” from his wife’s meetings in Washington. She met on Tuesday at the White House with Joe Biden and the US first lady, Jill Biden.
Russia calls its action in Ukraine a “special military operation” to ensure its own security. Zelenska concluded her remarks by describing the Russian invasion as terrorism, and linking it to America’s experiences of such attacks.
“America unfortunately knows from its own experience what terrorist attacks are and has always sought to defeat terrorism,” she said.
“Help us to stop this terror against Ukrainians, and this will be our joint great victory in the name of life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness of every person, every family.
“This is what I’m asking for and what my husband is asking for, not as a presidential couple but as parents and children of their parents. Because we want every father and every mother to be able to tell their child, go to sleep peacefully, there will be no more airstrikes, no more missile strikes. Is this too much to wish for?”
Lawmakers in the room applauded as she finished her speech.