Zelenskiy: US Approval of $61bn Aid Signals Ukraine’s Continued Support; Urges Senate Ratification for Frontline Strengthening

Ukraine’s president has hailed the recent vote by the US House of Representatives to pass a long-awaited $61 billion military aid package, emphasizing that it signifies continued Western support in Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, speaking in an interview with US television, emphasized that Saturday’s vote serves as reassurance that Ukraine will not face a fate akin to “a second Afghanistan,” where the pro-western government collapsed amid a US-led withdrawal in the summer of 2021.

Zelenskiy urged the US Senate to swiftly ratify the aid package, cautioning that Ukraine is fortifying its defenses amid concerns of a potential significant Russian offensive before the fresh supplies reach the frontline.

Zelenskiy reassures Ukraine won’t be “a second Afghanistan” amid Saturday’s crucial vote. (Credit: Alexey Furman/Getty Images)

“We really need to get this to the final point. We need to get it approved by the Senate … so that we get some tangible assistance for the soldiers on the frontline as soon as possible, not in another six months,” he stressed.

US pledges $300 million military aid to Ukraine this year

The Senate is anticipated to emerge from recess on Tuesday to conduct its initial vote on the package, similar to one it had previously approved in February. President Joe Biden has pledged to promptly sign it into law following Congress’s endorsement.

The anticipated approval would bring to a close months of deliberation during which House Republicans aligned with Donald Trump had resisted debating Ukraine aid, which was bundled with funds for Israel and Taiwan, in the lower chamber.

U.S. President Joe Biden (R) with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky (Credit: Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)

The commitment of the US to provide military aid to Ukraine this year is limited to $300 million, as the previously allocated budget by Congress has been exhausted.

This comes at a time when there has been a deterioration in the frontline situation, leading to the loss of Avdiivka in the eastern Donbas. The shortage of artillery and other munitions has been identified as a contributing factor to these setbacks.

However, opposition from Republicans has waned following Iran’s recent drone and missile attack on Israel, which employed tactics similar to those used by Russia in attacks on Ukraine. This event has underscored, particularly among some right-wing politicians, the necessity of providing further support to both Israel and Ukraine.

US officials have indicated that certain weapons are readily available in European warehouses, poised for swift deployment to Ukraine once President Biden finalizes the specifics of the initial supply, pending all the funding approval.

Zelenskiy seeks US Patriots and Atacms

President Zelenskiy has highlighted his immediate priorities, which include acquiring air-defense systems such as the US-made Patriots and long-range missiles like the Atacms. The House has urged the Pentagon to promptly provide these systems, with the Atacms capable of traveling up to 186 miles (300km).

Ukraine-Russia Conflict (Credit: Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)

In an interview with NBC News, President Zelenskiy emphasized the critical need for long-range weapons and air defense systems to minimize casualties on the frontline.

He stated, “We need long-range weapons to not lose people on the frontline because we have – we have casualties because we cannot reach that far. Our weapons are not that long-range. We need [that] and air defense. Those are our priorities right now.”

Currently, Ukraine is believed to possess only two Patriot anti-missile systems, with one dedicated to defending Kyiv and the other positioned closer to the frontline, leaving significant parts of the country vulnerable.

Russia’s attacks on power stations cause electricity shortages in Kharkiv and Kyiv

Recent attacks by Russia targeting power stations have resulted in electricity shortages in various regions of Ukraine, including Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city with a population of 1.3 million. Just over a week ago, a power station south of Kyiv was destroyed in a similar assault.

On Sunday, Moscow accused the US of endangering Ukrainian lives by pushing the country into a prolonged conflict that would ultimately result in defeat for both nations. Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry, asserted that the US sought to prolong the conflict, leading to significant losses for Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. (Credit: Olga MALTSEVA / AFP)

She also alleged that the US was directly engaging in attacks on Russian territory. “Washington’s deeper and deeper immersion in the hybrid war against Russia will turn into a loud and humiliating fiasco for the United States such as Vietnam and Afghanistan,” she added.

Azov brigade chief appreciates Zelenskiy

Bohdan Krotevych, the chief of staff to Ukraine’s Azov brigade, expressed his pleasant surprise at the outcome of the House vote and commended President Zelenskiy’s efforts in lobbying the US and other countries for military support.

However, Krotevych cautioned about potential retaliatory actions from Moscow in the ongoing conflict. “This doesn’t mean that Russia will not start countermeasures as a reaction,” he warned.

One expert, Ben Hodges, a former commanding general of the US Army in Europe, suggested that the immediate significance of the vote was more political than military. Hodges stated, “The strategic effect will be felt immediately in the Kremlin, where they now realize their plan to wait for us to quit has failed.”

Russian attack on Ukraine (Credit: ARIS MESSINIS / AFP)

Russia may have hoped to pressure Ukraine into seeking peace, especially with no US aid forthcoming before November’s presidential election. However, with the approved aid, Ukraine should be able to “stabilize the front, buy time to grow and rebuild their army and build up their defense industrial capacity,” Hodges elaborated.

In Kyiv, Ukrainians expressed their joy at the outcome on a rainy spring day. Pavlo, a 44-year-old IT specialist, voiced his gratitude, stating, “The politicians have made the right choice and this shows that the US takes the lead role in the world scene; I hope that the aid is already somewhere waiting at the border, ready to be on its way.”

Serhii Ivanovich, a retired army colonel and chess enthusiast, emphasized Ukraine’s peaceful nature, forced into a conflict with its larger neighbor. “We have been waiting for this for a very long time. We don’t have enough, we need help. We have the courage, we have the strength but we don’t have the equipment,” he remarked.

Arit Saha
Arit Saha
Arit Saha, an Economics graduate and budding content writer in Kolkata, deftly merges his passions for economics and global politics. He crafts engaging content weaving economic insights into geopolitical narratives. Contact: [email protected]
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