Following his address to Congress on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a stark warning about the high stakes of his country’s conflict with Russia, saying that World War III may have already begun when troops invaded his borders, as Fox News reports.
Speaking with Lester Hold of NBC News, Zelensky opined, “Nobody knows whether it may have already started,” and drew an unnerving analogy to the last war to occur on a global scale. “We’ve seen this 80 years ago, when the Second World War had started…nobody would be able to predict when the full-scale war would start,” he cautioned.
Zelensky’s comments to Holt came on the heels of his aforementioned appearance before both chambers of Congress, a speech in which he again sought not only an increase in military assistance to his country, but also the establishment of a no-fly zone over its skies.
In speaking directly to American legislators, Zelensky made other pointed historical comparisons to the current situation facing his citizenry, saying, “Remember Pearl Harbor, [the] terrible morning of Dec. 7, 1941 when your sky was black from planes attacking you,” he urged.
“Remember Sept. 11, a terrible day in 2001 when evil tried to turn U.S. cities…into a battlefield. Innocent people were attacked from the air…our country experiences the4 same every day, right now,” Zelensky added.
Though the Ukrainian president received a hero’s welcome and a standing ovation from Congress, as The Hill noted, it was far from clear that his appeal was sufficiently persuasive, at least in terms of the no-fly zone.
Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D) remarked after Zelensky’s address, “Requests to shut down the skies – it’s compelling. But I think every one of us are deeply concerned about this spiraling into all-out war,” according to TIME.
In anticipation of such a reaction, Zelensky offered something of a plan B, namely, by asking for the U.S. to provide as many S-300 air defense missiles as possible, something which Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) described as an especially deft maneuver, saying, “The point of the no-fly zone request is to make us feel guilty that we can’t do the no-fly zone, so that we work even harder on everything that we can do. It’s brilliant.”
Despite Zelensky’s dire characterization of the potentially world-changing ramifications of the current conflict in Ukraine, President Joe Biden has continued to resist those demanding help with a no-fly zone, instead announcing an additional $1 billion in aid to the besieged nation.