WASHINGTON — U.S. lawmakers said they were deeply affected by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s plea for help on Wednesday as they agonized about how to do more for his country without triggering a full-scale war between the U.S. and Russia.
“Everyone was really moved by the whole thing,” said Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., a former CIA and Pentagon official who chairs the House intelligence and counterterrorism subcommittee. “His connection between what’s going on in his country and events in American history. Obviously a video that was — I don’t know that there was a dry eye in the House, Democrat or Republican.”
“All of us are just trying to figure out how we do more,” Slotkin told NBC News as she walked out of the room in the Capitol where Zelenskyy spoke virtually. “There’s more we can do.”
Slotkin said she supports Zelenskyy’s call for “a steady drumbeat of economic sanctions” targeting Russia. She said the Ukrainian president’s call could prompt the U.S. to provide more fighter jets and air defense to fend off the Russian onslaught.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who previously served in the U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard, said the Zelenskyy speech “makes me want to throw on my uniform and go help.”
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said transfers of the S-300 missile defense systems could take place soon.
“Everything I hear from our military is that what’s much more effective are other air defense systems, including the transfer of the S-300, which would be far more effective and quick. And I think we’re moving forward on that,” he said.