US Congress approves $61 billion in aid for Ukraine

Washington: The US Congress has approved a $61-billion aid package for Ukraine after months of stalling.

The US Senate on Tuesday approved the bill with 79 votes in the 100-seat upper chamber days after the US House of Representatives on Saturday approved the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support.

It now needs the approval of US President Joe Biden.

“I will sign this bill into law and address the American people as soon as it reaches my desk tomorrow so we can begin sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine this week,” Biden said shortly after the vote, adding he wants to start delivering weapons and equipment to Ukraine this week.

By passing the legislative package, which also includes billions of dollars in aid for Israel and Taiwan, the US Congress has demonstrated the power of American leadership in the world, Biden said.

“We stand resolutely for democracy and freedom, and against tyranny and oppression.”

There is an urgent need for support for Ukraine, which is being subjected to relentless bombardment from Russia, Biden said. The bill also contains aid for Israel, which has recently faced unprecedented attacks from Iran.

“This critical legislation will make our nation and world more secure as we support our friends who are defending themselves against terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin,” Biden said.

The US aid package provides for around $23 billion to increase the US military stockpile. The money will therefore go indirectly to Ukraine, as the US usually provides the country with equipment from its stocks. The remainder is earmarked for further military support and financial aid, which is designed as a loan.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the US Senate “for approving vital aid to Ukraine today.”

“This vote reinforces America’s role as a beacon of democracy and the leader of the free world,” Zelensky.

Earlier on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder told reporters in Washington that new military aid could be delivered to Ukraine “within days.”

The deliveries would be “based on Ukraine’s most urgent needs,” Ryder said. “I think it’s a good assumption to expect that it’ll include air defense capabilities as well as artillery ammunition.”

The US is considered Ukraine’s most important ally in its defence against the Russian invasion. Since the start of the war in February 2022, Biden’s administration has provided more than $44 billion in military aid to Kiev.

This is in addition to billions more in non-military financial aid.

IANS

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