A speech from Ukraine’s president, and another $800 million in aid

Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky spoke virtually to a joint session of Congress to ask for more military assistance. President Joe Biden responded just hours later, as expected.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky virtually addresses Congress on Mar. 16, asking for more aid against the Russian invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky virtually addresses Congress on Mar. 16, asking for more aid against the Russian invasion.

J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/AFP

According to the latest news reports, there are signs of progress on peace talks to end the three-week-old war sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. That’s good news, but it’s hard to feel much optimism about such reports as long as Russian soldiers remain within Ukraine’s borders.

For that reason, the United States and other nations must increase the pressure on Russia for its unprovoked attack. President Joe Biden did that on Wednesday when he announced another $800 million in military aid for Ukraine, including anti-aircraft systems and drones to defend against Russia’s relentless airstrikes.

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More aid for Ukraine is the right move. Ukrainians are putting their lives on the line to fight aggression and defend its democracy. The U.S. and allies must, as Biden said, “continue to have their backs” and provide as much assistance as possible.

Peace talks, of course, should continue. The world should be fervently hoping for an end to the war, as long as Ukraine maintains its independence.

But by now, it should be crystal-clear to anyone paying even the slightest attention that Vladimir Putin cannot be trusted. With him, there is no appealing to reason, much less any latent humanitarian instinct. Like any other bully, especially one who already has power and is eager to grab more, Putin will not back down — indeed, is likely to commit far worse atrocities than bombing a maternity hospital or a theater-turned-shelter, among other civilian targets — unless forced to do so.

America’s $800 million is money well-spent to help make that happen.

Biden’s announcement came just hours after Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky spoke virtually to a joint session of Congress to make a plea for more aid. Zelensky was given another standing ovation, as he earned previously from the Canadian and British parliaments, and invoked Pearl Harbor and 9/11 to make his case to lawmakers and Biden for more aid.

“Being the leader of the world means being the leader for peace,” Zelensky said.

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In addition to more military aid, Zelensky also called for sanctions against members of the Russian government and made an argument for every American company still doing business in Russia to leave. We support both steps, if they can help quickly end Putin’s aggression.

Zelensky also called again for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, then played a video showing everyday life in Ukrainian cities before the attack, interspersed with scenes of war.

The video was effective, without a doubt. But as experts and officials have warned, imposing such a no-fly zone risks drawing the U.S. into a direct confrontation with Russia, perhaps even sparking Putin into launching a small-scale nuclear attack. Neither is acceptable. Biden has so far rightly resisted that step.

The president is scheduled to travel to Europe next week for a NATO summit on the Russian invasion.

By then, let’s hope for more encouraging news from those peace talks.

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