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Monday May 27, 2024

Zelensky tells US House speaker: quick passage of military aid is vital

Republican Speaker Mike Johnson has held up a bill for months that would supply $60 billion in military and financial aid for Ukraine

By Reuters
March 29, 2024
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gestures as he gives a press conference in Kyiv on February 24, 2023 on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. —AFP
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gestures as he gives a press conference in Kyiv on February 24, 2023 on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. —AFP

KYIV: President Volodymyr Zelensky told the speaker of the US House of Representatives during a phone call on Thursday that it was vital that Congress passes a new military aid package for Kyiv rapidly.

Republican Speaker Mike Johnson has held up a bill for months that would supply $60 billion in military and financial aid for Ukraine.

“Quick passage of US aid to Ukraine by Congress is vital. We recognise that there are differing views in the House of Representatives on how to proceed, but the key is to keep the issue of aid to Ukraine as a unifying factor,” Zelensky said on X.

Ukrainian troops are on the back foot on the battlefield, facing shortages of artillery supplies with the US assistance held up in Congress and the European Union failing to deliver on time munitions that it had promised earlier.

In a statement, Zelensky said he briefed Johnson about the situation on the battlefield and also spoke about “the dramatic increase in Russia’s air terror”.

The Ukrainian military later said that its top commander, Oleksander Syrskyi, had spoken to the US Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Charles Brown, about battlefield issues.

An account of the conversation, on Telegram, said Syrskyi discussed “the question of vital US help for Ukraine”, including strengthening defences against Russian air attacks and building fortifications.

Last Friday, Russia conducted its largest air strike on Ukraine’s energy system since invading in February 2022, damaging power units at a major dam and causing blackouts for more than a million people.

Moscow has described its recent attacks as part of a series of “revenge” strikes in response to Ukrainian attacks on Russian regions. Russia has increased its use of harder-to-stop ballistic missiles. It denies targeting civilians, though many have been killed in its strikes.