Zelenskyy urges US Senate to quickly pass Ukraine aid package

On Saturday US House of Representatives passed foreign aid bill that includes $61 billion for Ukraine

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the aid package gives Ukraine a chance of victory. AP
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The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday urged Washington to quickly pass an aid bill in the Senate and begin the process of transferring urgently needed weapons to fend off Russia's invasion.

Mr Zelenskyy said the $61 billion in US aid will mean Ukraine has a "chance of victory" and that long-range weapons are particularly crucial to support Kyiv's frontline forces.

"I think this support will really strengthen the armed forces of Ukraine and we will have a chance of victory if Ukraine really gets the weapons systems that we need so much, which thousands of soldiers need so much," Mr Zelenskyy said in an interview with NBC's Meet the Press.

"This aid should not be just spreading a thin layer all over, it needs to end up in tangible weapons systems, some really crucial weapons system which are hard to get, long-range artillery," Mr Zelenskyy said.

"We need long-range weapons so as not to lose people on the front line," he said.

His comments came the day after the US House of Representatives approved a foreign aid package that includes $61 billion in additional funding for the Ukrainian military, more than two years after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, signalling the US's continued support for Ukraine.

President Joe Biden, who is running for re-election in November, has been trying to get the aid package for Ukraine passed since October.

But the effort had stalled amid resistance from Republicans allied to former president Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who have tied assistance for Ukraine to changes in immigration policy along the US-Mexico border.

Hardline Republicans also question why the US is continuing to fund a foreign war that is now in its third year.

Zelenskyy said many of his forces are "exhausted".

"We need to replace them. But these new brigades, they have to have the equipment," he said.

On Saturday, Mr Zelenskyy welcomed the passage of the bill and said the aid would keep the war from expanding and save thousands of lives.

“Thank you, America!” he wrote in a post on X.

In the interview on Sunday he said the bill sends a powerful message to Russia, and demonstrates that Ukraine will not become a "second Afghanistan".

"This aid will strengthen Ukraine and send the Kremlin a powerful signal that it will not be the second Afghanistan," Zelenskyy said.

The aid package, which also includes $25 billion for Israel and Taiwan, must next be finalised and approved by the US Senate. The effort is expected to pass as it has previously voted in support of nearly identical measures.

Mr Biden would then need to sign it in to law.

On Saturday, Mr Biden urged the Senate to quickly send the package to his desk in order to meet Ukraine's "urgent battlefield needs".

Amid the stalemate in the Senate over the additional funding, Ukraine had been forced to ration its weapons supplies. Meanwhile in recent weeks, Russia has made steady advances into Ukrainian territory.

"We really need to get this to the final point," Zelenskyy said.

"We want to, well, get things as fast as possible so that we get some tangible assistance for the soldiers on the front line as soon as possible, not in another six months," he said.

Updated: April 22, 2024, 7:14 AM