Showing the cost of war, Ukraine's first lady calls for more weapons

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, called face-to-face with U.S. lawmakers Wednesday for more air defense systems to help protect her country’s skies, in a relentless speech on Capitol Hill that it shows the blood-stained baby carriages and shriveled little bodies left behind by the Russian bombardment. .

“We don’t want any more air strikes. No more missile strikes,” Zelenska told Republican and Democratic members of Congress in a speech capping a visit to Washington in place of her husband. President Volodymyr Zelensky. “Is this too much to ask?”

“This is what I’m asking for and what my husband is asking for,” she said from the Capitol’s Congressional auditorium stage, flashing photos of the carnage on an overhead screen that had lawmakers shaking their heads at the scenes. “As parents .”

Zelenska’s meetings in Washington with First Lady Jill Biden, President Joe Biden and other top administration figures have been some of her high-profile events of the war. He spent the first two months after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine at the end of February in seclusion with her two children, for safety.

Her husband has remained in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, during the war. She made a powerful video address to lawmakers in the same auditorium earlier this year, drawing repeated standing ovations.

Zelenska repeatedly thanked lawmakers and Biden for the billions of dollars in weapons and other support The United States has handed over Ukraine to help it fight Russian forces and fighter jets. He called for more air defense to help repel what have been endless Russian missiles and airstrikes that have killed countless civilians and flattened some Ukrainian cities.

It showed pictures of a smiling, paint-smeared 4-year-old girl, Liza Dmitrieva, whom the first lady had met before Christmas. The screen then showed an overturned baby stroller with blood pooling on the pavement below it, after an airstrike killed the girl and seriously injured her mother last week.

Zelenska showed and told the stories of other Ukrainian children killed or maimed by air strikes or shot dead as their families tried to flee with them.

“Our family represents the whole world to us and we do everything we can to preserve it,” Zelenska said. “We cry when we cannot save him. And we are left completely shattered when our world is destroyed by war.”

The speech was an unexpected change of tone for a visit whose previous public moments it had included receiving a bouquet from Joe Biden at the White House, an award ceremony and a visit to a local memorial for Ukrainians.

“We have seen in the Ukrainian leadership their courage, but also their no-nonsense, direct appeal and exposure of the brutal mindset of Mr. Putin,” Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said as lawmakers walked out.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other top leaders and grassroots lawmakers listened.

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Arhirova reported from Kyiv, Ukraine.

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