Updated Mar 5, 2022 - World

Zelensky pleads for fighter jets and Russian oil embargo in call with senators


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on March 2. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with U.S. senators on a Zoom call Saturday to introduce an oil embargo on Russia and push Eastern European countries to provide Russian-made planes to his country, according to multiple sources on the call.

Why it matters: Zelensky claimed that an oil embargo would be the most significant sanction the U.S. could impose — more significant than disconnecting Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system, which Western countries agreed to do last week.

  • The White House currently opposes a ban on Russian oil because it would cause disruptions to global energy markets, exacerbating inflation.
  • But pressure is growing in Congress — from both Democrats and Republicans — for the U.S. to take this step.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement after the meeting that he would do "all I can" to help the Biden administration facilitate the transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine from Eastern European countries.

State of play: The meeting comes after Zelensky, in a harsh rebuke of NATO for refusing to establish a no-fly zone, said that Western countries are giving the "green light for further bombing of Ukrainian cities."

  • Zelensky earlier this week said that if the U.S. and NATO do not establish a "no-fly" zone, they should provide Ukraine with warplanes to defend itself against Russia's aerial assault.
  • A proposed deal by the EU that would have permitted Ukrainian pilots to fly used Russian fighter jets fell apart earlier this month, Politico reports.

What they're saying: "Senator [Mitch] McConnell and I along with the other members ... are working very hard in a bipartisan fashion to get all the assistance the administration has requested for the Ukrainian people," Schumer said during the meeting, according to his office.

  • "Together we will get that assistance of over $10 billion in economic, humanitarian and security assistance to the Ukrainian people quickly."

Go deeper:

Go deeper