Ukraine thrown a lifeline as U.S. Congress approves aid bill to beat back Russia

Sursa: Facebook

The  U.S. Congress on Saturday voted resoundingly to approve $61 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine as part of a bigger package to Israel and Taiwan, after months of stalling for three key U.S. allies.

The outcome reflected both the broad support in Congress for continuing to help the Ukrainian military beat back Russia.

The consensus in Kyiv and Washington is that without this American help, Ukraine would lose.

Minutes before the vote on assistance for Kyiv, Democrats began to wave small Ukrainian flags on the House floor, as hard-right Republicans jeered.

Minutes after the vote, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine thanked lawmakers, singling out House Speaker Mike Johnson by name “for the decision that keeps history on the right track.”

“Democracy and freedom will always have global significance and will never fail as long as America helps to protect it,” he wrote on social media. “The vital U.S. aid bill passed today by the House will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger.”

The passage is a big win for Ukraine, which has been desperate for new military supplies to stave off a Russian offensive that is gaining ground.

The US Pentagon press secretary told reports on Thursday that US military supplies, including for air defense systems and artillery units, could be moved to Ukraine in a matter of days after final approval.

The rare moment of cooperation in Congress is also a cause for celebration for President Joe Biden, who has been calling the Ukraine war a world-defining conflict that the U.S. cannot afford to shrug off.

Under the legislation, $61 billion is earmarked for Kyiv; $26 billion for Israel and humanitarian aid for civilians in conflict zones, including Gaza; and $8 billion for the Indo-Pacific region.

The vote was 311 to 112 in favor of the aid to Ukraine, with a majority of Republicans — 112 — voting against it and one, Representative Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania, voting “present.”

It would direct the president to seek repayment from the Ukrainian government of $10 billion in economic assistance, a concept supported by former President Donald J. Trump, who had pushed for any aid to Kyiv to be in the form of a loan. But it also would allow the president to forgive those loans starting in 2026.

It also contained a measure to help pave the way to selling off frozen Russian sovereign assets to help fund the Ukrainian war effort, and a new round of sanctions on Iran.

“Our adversaries are working together to undermine our Western values and demean our democracy,” Representative Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas and the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said Saturday during the debate. “We cannot be afraid at this moment. We have to do what’s right. Evil is on the march. History is calling and now is the time to act.”

Today, members of both parties in the House voted to advance our national security interests and send a clear message about the power of American leadership on the world stage,” Mr. Biden said. “At this critical inflection point, they came together to answer history’s call, passing urgently needed national security legislation that I have fought for months to secure.”

Outside the Capitol, a jubilant crowd waved Ukrainian flags and chanted, “Thank you U.S.A.” as exiting lawmakers gave them a thumbs-up and waved smaller flags of their own.

For months, it had been uncertain whether Congress would approve new funding for Ukraine, even as momentum shifted in Moscow’s favor. That sparked fresh anxiety in Kyiv  and Europe that Washington, the single biggest provider of military aid to Ukraine, would turn its back on Ukraine as it struggled with the Russian invasion.

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