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Biden announces new security assistance for Ukraine but stops short of Zelenskyy's full request

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Zelenskyy makes impassioned plea for more U.S. aid
Zelenskyy makes impassioned plea for more U.S. aid 04:17

Washington — President Biden on Wednesday announced $800 million in new security assistance to 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.

That $800 million in additional military supplies, on top of $200 million Mr. Biden announced earlier this week, will include 800 anti-aircraft systems, drones, 20 million rounds of ammunition and 9,000 anti-armor systems. But Mr. Biden's announcement falls short of Zelenskyy's request for jets and some type of a NATO-enforced no-fly zone. 

The president, who thanked Zelenskyy for his speech and said he watched from the White House residence, said U.S. weapons deliveries of anti-tank and anti-air equipment have inflicted losses on Russian forces. 

"The American people are answering President Zelenskyy's call," Mr. Biden said. 

Special Report: Biden announces more aid to Ukraine after Zelenskyy's address to Congress 14:00

Earlier Wednesday, Zelenskyy urged Congress and the president to support some type of no-fly zone, and to provide more systems to defend Ukrainian skies. He had a direct message for Mr. Biden: "Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace."

Lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Mitch 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.

McConnell called Zelenskyy's address "incredibly effective, and said, "I think the message to President Biden is he needs to step up his game." 

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. 

"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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