Ukraianian First Lady Olena Zelenska compared Russia’s attacks on her home country to The Hunger Games when she addressed Congress on Wednesday, July 20. Zelenska spoke to the U.S. leaders about four months after her husband Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave his own address to Congress in March. Zelenska began her address by showing many casualties of the war and sharing their stories, before imploring members of Congress to send weapons. “How many families like this may still be destroyed by the war? Those are Russia’s Hunger Games, hunting for peaceful people in peaceful cities of Ukraine,” she said.
"Those are Russia's 'hunger games' — hunting for peaceful people in peaceful cities of Ukraine," Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska says to Congress during slideshow of war casualties.
"They will never broadcast this on their news. That's why I'm showing it to you here." pic.twitter.com/p0g08nXbRE
— ABC News (@ABC) July 20, 2022
Besides her heartbreaking accounts of the many people killed during attacks from Russia, Zelenska said that Ukrainians were “grateful” for the help that the United States have sent to defend her home country. “Your help is very strong. While Russia kills, America saves,” she said. “Unfortunately, the war is not over. The terror continues.”
“I’m asking for something now, I would never want to ask. I’m asking for weapons,” she said, before explaining how the Ukrainians plan to use weapons differently than their attackers. “Weapons that would not be used to wage a war on somebody else’s land, but to protect one’s home and the right to wake up alive in that home.” She specifically asked for air defense systems to fight back against airstrikes.
At the end of her speech, Zelenska made an emotional appeal to the members of Congress as a parent who just wants her children to be safe in their home country. “We want every father and every mother to be able to tell their child go to sleep peacefully, there will be no more airstrikes, no more missile strikes. Is this too much to wish for?” she said. “This is the equality among free people. People who know what they are protecting. They know what they live for. I hope you heard me today and I hope that your decisions will be speedy. Thank you for your attention. Glory to Ukraine.”
Zelenska has long been an outspoken presence as her country defends itself from Russian forces invading Ukraine. The First Lady has encouraged people all over the world to speak out against the attacks that Russia has made on Ukraine. She’s also shared graphic videos, showing some of the strikes against Ukraine, including attacks on hospitals. When sharing videos of other First Ladies around the world, she detailed what’s happened as a result of the war, and she warned about the implications the war could have. “Ukrainian children have to live and study in bomb shelters, and hospitals have to treat their patients in basements,” she wrote. “This is a war in Europe and аt the EU borders. Ukraine is defending against the force which tomorrow might invade your peaceful cities and towns.”
When Zelenska’s husband spoke to Congress, he called on President Joe Biden to close the sky over Ukraine and showed a graphic video depicting Russia’s attacks. “You are the leader of the nation, of your great nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means being the leader of peace,” Zelenskyy said.
The Ukrainian First Lady’s address to Congress came about two months after U.S. First Lady Jill Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine amid the war. Biden said she made the point to go to Ukraine on Mother’s Day. “I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop and this war has been brutal and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine,” she said.