Zelenskiy urges speedy passage of Ukraine aid in US Senate, transfer of weapons

By Thomson Reuters Apr 21, 2024 | 9:03 AM

By Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday welcomed the passage of $60 billion aid for Ukraine by the U.S. House of Representatives but urged Washington to quickly turn the bill into law and proceed with the actual transfer of weapons, saying long-range arms and air defense systems were top priorities.

In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press”, Zelenskiy said the passage of the bill would send a powerful message to Russia that Washington stands by Kyiv and that it would not be “a second Afghanistan”.

“I think this support will really strengthen the armed forces of Ukraine and we will have a chance for victory,” Zelenskiy said through a translator. But he repeatedly urged U.S. lawmakers to take swift action to pass the bill in the Senate.

“We really need to get this to the final point. We need to get it approved by the Senate….so that we get some tangible assistance for the soldiers on the frontline as soon as possible, not in another six months,” Zelenskiy said.

The U.S. House of Representative, with broad bipartisan support, passed a $95 billion legislative package providing security assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. Aid for Ukraine had been held up for months.

Almost 26 months since the 2022 invasion, Russia is slowly advancing in eastern Ukraine and has ramped up its bombardments of cities and towns behind the front lines amid a slowdown in Western military assistance.

The legislation now proceeds to the Democratic-majority Senate, which passed a similar measure more than two months ago. U.S. leaders from Democratic President Joe Biden to top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell had been urging embattled Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson to bring it up for a vote.

The Senate is set to begin considering the House-passed bill on Tuesday, with some preliminary votes that afternoon. Final passage was expected sometime next week, which would clear the way for Biden to sign it into law.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Additional reporting by Kaniskha Singh; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)