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Ukrainian and Western leaders welcome US aid package

kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian and Western leaders on Sunday welcomed an aid program we desperately need passed by the US House of Representatives, with the Kremlin warning that passing the bill would “further ruin” Ukraine and cause more deaths.

Ukrainian commanders and analysts say the long-awaited $61 billion military aid package – including $13.8 billion for arms purchases from Ukraine – will help slow Russia’s gradual advances in during the third year of the war – but that it will probably take more for kyiv to resume the offensive.

The House quickly approved $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies in a rare Saturday session as Democrats and Republicans united after months of far-right resistance in the face of renewed U.S. support to push back The full-scale invasion of Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who had warned his country would lose the war without U.S. funding, said he was grateful for the U.S. lawmaker’s decision.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Zelenskyy said the aid package would “send a powerful signal to the Kremlin that (Ukraine) will not be the second Afghanistan.”

Zelensky said Ukraine would prioritize long-range weapons and air defense to “break Russia’s plans” as part of an expected “large-scale offensive” that Ukrainian forces are preparing for.

The aid plan will be submitted to the US Senate, which could adopt it as early as Tuesday. US President Joe Biden has promised to sign it immediately.

It may still take weeks for it to reach the front lines, where it is desperately needed.

“With this we can stop (Russian troops) and reduce our losses,” said infantryman Oleksandr. He is fighting around Avdiivka, the town in Donetsk region that Ukraine lost to Russia in February after months of intense fighting.

Ammunition shortages linked to the aid blockage over the past six months have led Ukrainian military commanders to ration shells, a disadvantage Russia has taken advantage of this year by seizing the town of Avdiivka and currently moving towards the town of Chasiv Yar, also in Donetsk.

“The Russians are attacking us in waves: we are exhausted, we must leave our positions. This is repeated several times,” Oleksandr told The Associated Press. He did not give his full name for security reasons. “Not having enough ammunition means we can’t cover the area it’s our responsibility to hold when they attack us. »

Many in kyiv welcomed the U.S. vote as good news after a difficult period in which Russia made gains on the front line and intensified its attacks on Ukraine’s energy system and other infrastructure.

“I heard our president go on record saying that we can lose the war without this aid. Thank you very much and yesterday was a great event,” said Kateryna Ruda, 43.

Tatiana Ryavchenuk, the wife of a Ukrainian soldier, stressed the need for more weapons, lamenting that soldiers “have nothing to protect us.”

“They need weapons, they need equipment, they need it. We always need help. Because without help, our enemy can advance further and end up in the center of our city,” said the 26-year-old.

Other Western leaders, who have been scrambling to find ways to fill the void left by stalled U.S. military aid, also welcomed the congressional decision.

“Ukraine uses weapons supplied by NATO allies to destroy Russian combat capabilities. This makes us all safer, in Europe and North America,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on X.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “Ukraine deserves all the support it can get against Russia,” and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the vote “a strong signal in these times.” “.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk thanked House Speaker Mike Johnson while pointing out the delay in Congress. “Better late than too late.” And I hope it is not too late for Ukraine,” he wrote on X.

In Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Saturday called the approval of aid to Ukraine “expected and predictable.”

The move “will make the United States of America richer, further ruin Ukraine and lead to the death of even more Ukrainians, the fault of the Kiev regime,” Peskov was quoted as saying by the Russian News Agency. Ria Novosti.

“The new aid program will not save, but on the contrary, kill thousands and thousands more people, prolong the conflict and bring even more grief and devastation,” said Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the International Affairs Committee. of the Russian State Duma. wrote on Telegram.

The Washington-based think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, said the logistics of getting US aid to the front line would mean “Ukrainian forces could suffer additional setbacks.” » while waiting for his arrival.

“But they will likely be able to blunt the current Russian offensive provided the resumption of U.S. aid comes quickly,” he said in his latest assessment of the conflict.

Olexiy Haran, a professor of comparative politics at the Mohlya Academy of Kyiv National University, said Ukraine is grateful for help from the United States and other Western countries, “but the problem is, frankly, it’s too late and it’s not enough.”

“It’s the third year of war and we still don’t have any aviation, any new aviation. We don’t have enough missiles, so we can’t close the skies. Moreover, recently we did not even have artillery shells,” he said.

“That’s why the situation was very, very difficult and the Russians took advantage of this to launch their offensive. That’s why it’s so important to us. And if we had received it six months earlier, we would certainly have saved the lives of many Ukrainians, including civilians.”

Matthew Savill, director of military science at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said the help, while welcome, “can probably only help stabilize the Ukrainian position for this year and begin preparations for operations in 2025.” .

“The predictability of funding through 2024 and through 2025 will help the Ukrainians plan their defense this year, especially if European munitions supplies also arrive, but additional planning and funds will be needed for 2025, and we have U.S. elections by then,” he said.

Responding to a question on NBC about how long Ukraine will still need aid programs, Zelenskyy said that “it depends on when we actually have weapons on the ground.”

“We made the decision to supply F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine a year ago,” he said. “We still don’t have planes in Ukraine.”

In other developments:

— On the ground, the Russian Defense Ministry announced Sunday that its troops had taken control of the village of Bohdanivka, in the Donetsk region. Ukrainian officials have not yet commented.

— One person was killed and four others injured in Russian shelling in Ukrainsk on Sunday, according to the prosecutor’s office in Ukraine’s partially occupied Donetsk region. In the Odessa region, four people were injured in a missile attack, Governor Oleh Kiper said.

— Two suspects were arrested on Sunday after two Ukrainian soldiers killed a police officer at a checkpoint in the Vinnytsia region. Soldiers opened fire on Maksym Zaretskyi, 20, early Saturday after he stopped their car for a routine inspection. Zaretskyi’s partner was injured but survived. Ukrainian National Police Chief Ivan Vyhovsky said the suspects, a father and son aged 52 and 26, were arrested in Ukraine’s Odessa region.


Elise Morton reported from London. Vasilisa Stepanenko and Jill Lawless contributed to this report from Kyiv.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at

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