Ukrainian and Western leaders hail US aid as Kremlin warns of ‘further ruin’

21 April 2024, 11:14

Pro-Ukraine activists outside the Capitol in Washington
Congress Ukraine Israel. Picture: PA

The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favour of the package of 61 billion US dollars (£49.3 billion) in aid for Ukraine.

Ukrainian and Western leaders have welcomed a desperately needed aid package passed by the US House of Representatives, as the Kremlin claimed the passage of the Bill will “further ruin” Ukraine and cause more deaths.

The House swiftly approved 95 billion US dollars (£76.8 billion) in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other US allies in a rare Saturday session as Democrats and Republicans banded together after months of hard-right resistance over renewed American support for repelling Russia’s invasion.

With an overwhelming vote, the 61 billion dollars (£49.3 billion) in aid for Ukraine passed in a matter of minutes. Many Democrats cheered on the House floor and waved Ukrainian flags.

Congress Ukraine Israel
Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson talks to reporters after members voted to approve 95 billion US dollars in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other US allies (J Scott Applewhite/AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who had warned that his country would lose the war without US funding, said he was grateful for the decision by American politicians.

“We appreciate every sign of support for our country and its independence, people and way of life, which Russia is attempting to bury under the rubble,” he wrote on social media site X, formerly Twitter.

“America has demonstrated its leadership since the first days of this war. Exactly this type of leadership is required to maintain a rules-based international order and predictability for all nations,” he said.

The Ukrainian president noted that his country’s “warriors on the front lines” will feel the benefit of the aid package.

One such “warrior” is infantry soldier Oleksandr, fighting around Avdiivka, the city in the Donetsk region that Ukraine lost to Russia in February after months of intense combat.

“For us it’s so important to have this support from the USand our partners,” he told the Associated Press. He did not give his full name for security reasons.

“With this we can stop them and reduce our losses. It’s the first step to have the possibility to liberate our territory.”

Ammunition shortages linked to the aid hold-up over the past six months have led Ukrainian military commanders to ration shells, a disadvantage that Russia seized on this year — taking the city of Avdiivka and currently inching towards the town of Chasiv Yar, also in the Donetsk region.

“The Russians come at us in waves – we become exhausted, we have to leave our positions. This is repeated many times,” Oleksandr said. “Not having enough ammunition means we can’t cover the area that is our responsibility to hold when they are assaulting us.”

APTOPIX Russia Ukraine War Kharkiv Attacks
Russian rockets are launched against Ukraine from Russia’s Belgorod region, seen from Kharkiv, on Thursday (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

In Kyiv, civilians shared their views on the US aid package.

“I heard our president officially say that we can lose the war without this help. Thanks very much and yesterday was a great event,” said Kateryna Ruda, 43.

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

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

Other Western leaders praised the passing of the aid package.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on X: “Ukraine is using the weapons provided by Nato Allies to destroy Russian combat capabilities. This makes us all safer, in Europe & North America.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “Ukraine deserves all the support it can get against Russia”.

Her statement was echoed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who called it “a strong signal in these times”.

“We stand with the Ukrainians fighting for their free, democratic and independent country,” he posted on X.

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

The decision “will make the United States of America richer, further ruin Ukraine and result in the deaths of even more Ukrainians, the fault of the Kyiv regime,” he was quoted as saying by Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

Russia Ukraine War
A fragment of a Russian missile in a farmer’s field in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine (Andrii Marienko/AP)

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also took to social media to speak against the aid package.

“The allocation of military assistance by the United States to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan will aggravate the global crisis: military assistance to the Kyiv regime is direct sponsorship of terrorist activities,” she wrote on Telegram.

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

The whole aid package will go to the US Senate, which could pass it as soon as Tuesday. President Joe Biden has promised to sign it immediately.

By Press Association

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