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Ukrainian and Western leaders laud US aid package while the Kremlin warns of 'further ruin'

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LA Post: Ukrainian and Western leaders laud US aid package while the Kremlin warns of 'further ruin'
April 21, 2024
SAMYA KULLAB and ELISE MORTON - AP

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian and Western leaders welcomed a desperately needed aid package passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, as the Kremlin claimed the passage of the bill would “further ruin” Ukraine and cause more deaths.

The House swiftly approved $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. 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 in aid for Ukraine passed in a matter of minutes. Many Democrats cheered on the House floor and waved Ukrainian flags.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who had warned that his country would lose the war without U.S. funding, said that he was grateful for the decision of U.S. lawmakers.

“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.

“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” would 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 U.S. and our partners,” Oleksandr 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 holdup 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.”

Other Western leaders lauded the passing of the aid package.

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

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

In Russia, Kremlin spokesperson 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,” Peskov was quoted as saying by Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

“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 U.S. Senate, which could pass it as soon as Tuesday. President Joe Biden has promised to sign it immediately.

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Morton reported from London.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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