US House approves Ukrainian aid, including weapons, after President Zelensky’s visit

WASHINGTON/Kyiv—The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday gave final approval to a $45 billion aid package for Ukraine.

The aid measures passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, part of the $1.66 trillion government financing bill that was approved by the Senate a day earlier, has been sent to President Joe Biden to sign into law. You can

In a tweet thanking Congress and leaders of both parties, Zelensky said it was “important” for Americans to be “side by side” with Ukrainians “in this struggle.”

The new military and economic aid would top Western sanctions against Russia, including about $50 billion in aid to Ukraine this year and current caps on Russian oil prices.

Russia responded to the cap on Friday by threatening to cut oil production by 5-7% early next year by halting sales to countries that support the measure.

Zelensky has returned from Washington on his first trip outside Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24. The US promised a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery to bolster his tough air defenses.

He has long called for Patriot missiles to counter Russian missile and drone attacks on civilian infrastructure, including Ukraine’s power grid. Millions of people are left without electricity, heat and water as temperatures drop below freezing.

But U.S. officials say the single Patriot battery that Biden promised Zelensky at Wednesday’s White House meeting won’t change the course of the war.

Ukraine aid
Patriot missile defense system at Sliak Airport in Sliak near Zvolen, Slovakia May 6, 2022. (Radovan Stoklasa/Reuters)

In his regular nightly video address, President Zelensky warned the Ukrainian public that Russia could launch further attacks in the run-up to Christmas, urging him to “pay attention to air raid warnings, help each other, look out for each other.” ‘ urged.

“With the holiday season approaching, Russian terrorists may step up their activities again,” he said. “They don’t care about Christian values ​​or anything related to that.”

Switching to Russian, Zelensky warned, “Russian citizens must clearly understand that terrorism never begins without a response.” He didn’t elaborate.

He met with the commander-in-chief to review the military’s situation and said his government was “preparing for various scenarios of action by a terrorist state. And we will respond.”

Washington and its allies are reluctant to supply Kyiv with modern tanks and long-range missiles called ATACMS, which could reach far behind the front lines or even Russia itself.

The Kyiv and Biden administrations are wary that maintaining congressional support for the aid could become more complicated once Republicans take a narrow majority in the House next year. Some Republicans oppose the aid, while others want tighter scrutiny.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the arms-making city of Tula on Friday and was seen telling defense industry chiefs to increase production of war-front weapons.

DTEK, the largest private investor in Ukraine’s power sector, said in its Telegram messaging app that Friday’s Russian shelling shut down one of its power plants, killing one employee and killing another. said he was injured. The company, which owns eight thermal power plants, has not identified which plants were damaged.

Reinforcements Reported

Ukraine has driven Russian forces out of its capital Kyiv and its second largest city Kharkov. Moscow is now focused on retaining the areas it is stationed in the south and east of Ukraine (about one-fifth of the country’s land mass).

Ukrainian forces have repelled attacks on at least 17 settlements in the east, General Staff said early Friday.

Kremlin forces launched 12 missile and airstrikes, including on civilian targets, away from the front lines in eastern and southeastern Ukraine, he added.

The exiled mayor of Russian-occupied Melitopol in the south said more Russian troops were being brought into the city and were fortifying the fortifications, with residents now only being able to leave on foot.

In an online media briefing, Ivan Fedorov added that a car bomb exploded in the city earlier in the day.

Russian troops shelled the southern region of Kherson 61 times in 24 hours, half of which killed one person in the city, Governor Yaroslav Yanushevich said. Russia withdrew from the city last month.

In the Russian-controlled part of the neighboring Zaporizhia region, the Russian-installed governor, Yevgeny Baritsky, said shelling of the nuclear power plant there had “almost stopped”, but that Russian troops would not leave.

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of risking a nuclear disaster by fighting near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, and the United Nations has called for a safe zone there.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has called for safe zones around power plants to reduce the risk of nuclear disasters, and said it was making progress in talks with both sides on the issue.

Reuters was unable to confirm the battlefield report.

($1 = 0.9427 EUR)