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Thursday May 30, 2024

Biden announces air defence weapons for Ukraine

By AFP
September 22, 2023

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden will announce new air defence weapons for Ukraine during a visit by President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday but will not give Kyiv long-range ATACMS missiles yet, the White House said.

“President Biden will announce a new package of military assistance today including significant air defense capabilities to help Ukraine,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told a briefing.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Thursday as he faced Republican skeptics in the US Congress that Kyiv will lose its war against the Russian invasion if the flow of billions of dollars in aid gets cut.Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer, a major supporter of President Joe Biden´s pro-Ukraine policies, said Zelensky had told him “if we don´t get the aid, we will lose the war.”

The United States has spearheaded Western support for Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin´s invasion in February 2022, with Congress approving more than $100 billion in aid to date, including $43 billion in weaponry. But the hard-right faction dominating the Republican Party is increasingly adamant that the aid spigot should be turned off, with polls showing Republican voters are getting cold feet, in part due to messaging from Donald Trump as he seeks a return to the White House in 2024.

This meant Zelensky´s second wartime visit to Congress, followed by stops at the Pentagon and a meeting with Biden in the White House, was far more challenging than his dramatic first trip in December 2022 when he received a hero´s welcome.

Zelensky, wearing his trademark olive green military style shirt, said as he arrived in the US capital that he expected “important negotiations” and “air defense for Ukraine is among the top issues.”

The Ukrainian leader arrived right after another wave of Russian missile strikes. The attacks -- hitting cities across the country -- killed at least three people in Kherson and wounded many in other areas.Instead of the major televised address to lawmakers at the Capitol during his previous Washington visit, Zelensky started this time by meeting the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, who offered only a discreet welcome. McCarthy is having trouble keeping a lid on internal party squabbling over US spending in Ukraine.