Tuesday, March 28, 2023 | Ramadan 5, 1444 H
broken clouds
25°C / 25°C

US to approve Ukraine aid after Zelenskiy visit

New package would bring US aid to almost $100 billion as Russia threatens oil output cut in response to price cap
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Polish President Andrzej Duda meet after Zelenskiy's visit to Washington, at Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport, Poland. - Reuters
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Polish President Andrzej Duda meet after Zelenskiy's visit to Washington, at Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport, Poland. - Reuters

WASHINGTON/KYIV: US lawmakers were expected to approve a $45 billion aid package for Ukraine on Friday, as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy returned from Washington with the promise of Patriot missiles to help fend off Russia's invasion.

The military and economic assistance, part of a wider government spending bill, follows US aid worth around $50 billion sent to Ukraine this year as well sanctions imposed on Russia by the West that now include a cap on Russian oil prices.

Russia responded to the cap on Friday by threatening to cut oil output by 5 per cent-7 per cent early next year, through halting sales to the countries that support a measure that seeks to limit Moscow's ability to fund the war.

Zelenskiy has long sought Patriot missiles to help counter relentless Russian air strikes, which have razed cities, towns and villages during 10 months of brutal conflict and knocked out power and water across the country over the past three months.

US officials say, however, that the single Patriot battery that President Joe Biden told Zelenskiy would be supplied to Ukraine would not change the course of the war.

Washington and its allies have been unwilling to supply Kyiv with modern battle tanks and long-range missiles called ATACMS that could reach far behind frontlines and into Russia itself.

But on Thursday, the US Senate approved the $44.9 billion in new Ukraine aid as part of a US government funding bill. The Democratic-led House of Representatives was set to vote on the bill on Friday.

The bill is expected to pass but it was unclear whether US Congressional support to Ukraine would endure after Republicans take a narrow majority in the House early next year.

Even as it fights for its survival, Ukraine is pursuing a fight against domestic corruption to help reassure international donors that their money will be spent well.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would find a way to counter the Patriots while also seeking to end the fighting. "Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war," he said.

In response, White House spokesman John Kirby said Russia's actions showed Putin was clearly set on escalating its invasion.

By using the word war, Putin departed from the usual Kremlin practice of referring to its invasion as a "special military operation". A politician in St Petersburg asked prosecutors to investigate Putin over his use of the word, accusing the Kremlin chief of breaking his own laws on spreading "disinformation".

Nikita Yuferev, an opposition councillor in the city where Putin was born, said he knew his legal challenge would go nowhere, but filed it to expose the "mendacity" of the system.

"War, in Russian society, is a frightening word. Everyone is brought up by grandparents who lived through World War Two, everyone remembers the saying 'Anything but war'," he said.

The Kremlin said "significant progress" had been achieved towards its stated goal of "demilitarising" Ukraine.

Kyiv and its Western allies say Moscow is fighting an illegal war of conquest and suspect its repeated offers of negotiations on its own terms are a ploy to buy time after battlefield setbacks. - Reuters

arrow up
home icon