A Zoom meeting held this Saturday between the President of Ukraine, Volodímir Zelensky, and the plenary session of the US Senate has put on the table how US support for the Slavic country is consolidated. The contact – the first direct since the beginning of the invasion – has occurred on the eve of the debate in Congress on the approval of a package of 10,000 million dollars in aid, and has given Zelensky the opportunity to expose the most urgent needs of his country to confront Russian aggression. According to the leader of the Democratic majority in the upper house, Chuck Schumer, the president has requested more planes, that the US stop importing Russian crude oil and exclude Moscow from the international credit card payment system. Meanwhile, in the Kremlin, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with President Vladimir Putin and offered to mediate between Moscow and Kiev.
In a statement, Schumer called Zelensky’s request a “desperate appeal.” “These planes are badly needed. And I will do everything I can to help the Administration facilitate your transfer. [a Ucrania]Schumer added, referring to Soviet-made planes available in Poland and Romania. NATO should later exchange those loans for more modern devices, Democratic lawmaker Brad Sherman, one of those attending the meeting, explained on Twitter. In the videoconference, in which Zelensky appeared dressed in an army shirt and a Ukrainian flag next to him, the full Senate (100 seats, divided equally between Democrats and Republicans) and the 80 members of the caucus Ukrainian of the Congress. Earlier this week, the Ukrainian ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, met with members of the Senate and told them that Ukraine needs more supplies to combat the Russian army, whose capacity exceeds Ukraine’s, especially in air force.
A group of us met by zoom with @ZelenskyyUa. His main ask was for the U.S. to allow Poland and Romania to transfer Soviet era jets to #Ukraineand for the U.S. to compensate by giving more advanced planes to those two NATO allies. (1/4)
— Congressman Brad Sherman (@BradSherman) March 5, 2022
The Israeli Prime Minister met this Saturday in the Kremlin with Vladimir Putin to hold talks on the war in Ukraine, according to a spokesman for the Government of Israel. Bennett has offered in recent days to mediate between Russia and Ukraine after speaking on the phone last Wednesday with Putin and the Ukrainian president, with whom he has contacted again after his visit to the Kremlin. The Russian military presence in Syria, where Israeli aircraft launch regular strikes against pro-Iranian forces, has led Bennett to avoid expressly condemning the Russian invasion and rejecting requests for arms shipments from Kiev. From Moscow, where he held a three-hour interview, the Israeli prime minister has continued his trip to Berlin to meet tonight with the German chancellor, Olaf Scholf, who already visited him in Jerusalem last Wednesday, according to the Hebrew press.
The head of the Government went to Moscow accompanied by the Minister of Housing, Zeev Elkin, of Russian origin. About a million Israelis, 15% of the population, come from the diaspora that emigrated to the Jewish state after the decomposition of the Soviet Union. The religious ultranationalist Bennett has traveled from Tel Aviv in the middle of the Sabbath, the Jewish holy day that expressly prohibits travel by plane, due to the dispensation that represents, according to Jewish law, acting with the mission of saving lives.
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Zelenski, also of Jewish origin, has also spoken on several occasions with President Joe Biden, the last one this Thursday. A day later, the Ukrainian leader delivered a fiery speech in which he criticized NATO for refusing to declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine, claiming that the refusal has given Russia a “green light” to continue bombing his country. The request has so far received bipartisan rejection in Washington because it would involve the participation of US forces under the NATO umbrella in the conflict, which would be equivalent to a direct confrontation with Russia. NATO has also ruled out establishing the zone to avoid a world war. Moscow will consider as belligerent any country that participated in the execution of such a plan.
Despite bipartisan rejection of the idea, a large majority of Americans support a forceful ban on flights over Ukraine. According to a survey conducted this week by the Ipsos Institute for the Reuters agency, 74% of those surveyed, both Republicans and Democrats, defend that the US and its NATO allies impose air exclusion. 80% support that their country stop buying Russian oil. On this matter, the White House pointed out this Friday that it is considering reducing its imports, although with caution for fear that an increase in gasoline prices will further fuel inflation, at record highs. The energy sector is the least affected by international sanctions, as Paul Krugman, Nobel laureate in Economics, recalled this week in an article.
Public opinion overwhelmingly favorable to Ukraine and the mobilization of pressure groups such as the caucus Ukrainian in Congress or the Ukrainian community in New York, the largest in the country, as well as several rabbis add pressure on the White House. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, has reiterated Washington’s refusal, not to provoke “a full-scale war in Europe.” “President Biden has made it clear that we are not going to go to war with Russia,” he said Friday in Warsaw. “Poland is doing vital work to respond to this crisis… It has done a lot to facilitate security assistance to Ukraine,” said the head of US diplomacy, who traveled to Rzeszow, on the border with Ukraine, on Saturday. . Poland hosts some 10,000 US military personnel, half of them arriving in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, Washington today authorized the flight plan of a plane chartered by Russia to repatriate the 13 UN diplomats expelled by Washington for espionage. “This exception [al cierre del espacio aéreo a aviones rusos] it was done in accordance with federal regulations, to ensure that the Russian mission staff and their families left before the date we had indicated”, this Monday.