Zelenskyy welcomes US aid to Ukraine, urges rapid transfer of weapons

Ukraine president says the passage of the aid bill would send a powerful message to Russia that the US stands by Kyiv.

Ukraine’s president has welcomed the passage of $60bn in military aid for his country by the US House of Representatives and urged Washington to quickly turn the bill into law and proceed with the transfer of weapons.

“I am grateful to the United States House of Representatives, both parties, and personally Speaker Mike Johnson for the decision that keeps history on the right track,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Sunday.

The president said that the bill “will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger”.

In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press programme, Zelenskyy said the passage of the aid bill would send a powerful message to Russia that Washington stands by Kyiv and that it would not be “a second Afghanistan”.

“I think this support will really strengthen the armed forces of Ukraine and we will have a chance for victory,” Zelenskyy said through an interpreter.

He repeatedly urged US lawmakers to take swift action to pass the bill in the Senate. He said Ukraine urgently needed US long-range weapons including ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems) and air defence systems to fight off the invasion by Russia that began in February 2022.

“This is crucial. These are the priorities now,” Zelenskyy said.

On Saturday, the US House of Representatives, with broad bipartisan support, passed a $95bn legislative package providing security assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Aid for Ukraine had been held up for months, because of the opposition of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who urged Republican lawmakers to block it.

Russia has said US lawmakers’ support for Ukraine showed that Washington was wading much deeper into a hybrid war against Moscow that would end in humiliation on a par with the Vietnam or Afghanistan wars.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said it was clear that the US wanted Ukraine “to fight to the last Ukrainian” including with attacks on Russian sovereign territory and civilians.

“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,” Zakharova said.

Russia, she added, will give “an unconditional and resolute response”.

Almost 26 months since the start of the invasion, Russia is slowly advancing in eastern Ukraine and has ramped up its bombardments of cities and towns behind the front lines amid a slowdown in Western military assistance.

The US legislation now proceeds to the Democratic-majority Senate, which passed a similar measure more than two months ago. US leaders, from Democratic President Joe Biden to top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, had been urging Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson to bring it up for a vote.

The Senate is set to begin considering the bill on Tuesday, with some preliminary votes that afternoon. Final passage is expected sometime next week, which would clear the way for Biden to sign it into law.

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