Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday that the Kremlin had already crossed “all the red lines” when asked if a Russian chemical attack should prompt stronger international action against the invasion of his country.
There is growing concern that Russia could turn to chemical or biological weapons as its invasion drags on, causing a major escalation in the conflict. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, on Wednesday warned his Russian counterpart against it, although Zelenskyy said the Russian military had already escalated the warfare when it began to bombard civilian targets.
“I believe that Russians have already crossed all the red lines when they started shelling civilians,” he told NBC News’ Lester Holt. “They’ve killed over 100 children. I don’t understand the meanings of red lines. What else should we wait for? Letting Russians kill 200, 300 or 400 children?”
Zelenskyy went on to say that even if Kyiv falls amid an onslaught, Ukrainians would never fall in lockstep behind Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Our people are unconquerable,” Zelenskyy said, noting that negotiations with Russia had been “very difficult” thus far. “You can conquer the city, break the heart, but you won’t be able to force anybody to love someone. That is why the heart will always remain with Ukrainians.”
The interview was aired after Zelenskyy gave a powerful address to Congress in which he called on the U.S. to “do more” while invoking the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S. and the 1941 Japanese strike on Pearl Harbor.
“Right now the destiny of our country is being decided,” Zelenskyy said, adding that the Kremlin had “attacked not just us, not just our land, not just our cities, it went on a brutal offensive against our values.”
While Biden has called Zelenskyy’s request for a no-fly zone over Ukraine a non-starter, the White House announced an additional $800 million in military aid to the nation hours after the speech. The figure includes hundreds of anti-aircraft systems; small arms, such as grenade launchers and rifles; drones; and 25,000 sets of body armor.
“This is a struggle that pits the appetites of an autocrat against humankind’s desire to be free,” Biden said as he announced the funding.