Vote to resume US military aid saves Ukraine

The Ukrainian lieutenant was in a firing position on the Eastern Front, commanding an artillery unit that relied on U.S.-supplied M777 howitzers and other large guns. as U.S. lawmakers gather in Washington to decide whether ammunition shortages will force the withdrawal of artillery.

But when the lieutenant returned to base Saturday night, he heard the news he and millions of Ukrainians had been waiting for.

“I had just finished my shift change and was entering the building when my colleagues informed me that the aid package for Ukraine had finally been approved by Congress,” said Lieutenant Oleksandar, who gave only his first name. He spoke accordingly. . “We hope this aid package reaches us as soon as possible.”

The decision by American lawmakers to resume military aid after months of costly delays was greeted with a collective sigh of relief and an outpouring of gratitude across a bruised and bloody Ukraine. Soldiers and civilians said that while it may have been slow, the U.S. aid meant more than bullets and bombs.

It offered something equally important: hope.

The $60 billion military aid package approved by the House of Representatives will be voted on in the Senate and is expected to be signed by President Biden on Tuesday. The Pentagon said it could resume arms shipments to Ukraine within days through established logistics networks.

While some supplies, such as artillery shells, may start arriving relatively quickly, both Ukrainian military commanders and military analysts have warned that it will be weeks before U.S. aid begins to have a direct impact on the fighting. .

“Thus, the situation on the front is likely to continue to deteriorate in the meantime, especially if Russian forces take advantage of the limited time frame until new U.S. aid arrives to step up attacks,” the Washington War Study said. analysts said. research group based on I wrote it on the weekend.

Lieutenant Oleksandar said the Russian military has recently appeared determined to commit more resources to the fight as soon as possible to take advantage of Ukraine’s depleted weaponry.

“The Russians will not tolerate air strikes or artillery,” he said. “Each of our cannons can fire up to two to three lancets a day, but each lancet costs more than the cannon itself,” he said of one of Russia’s most sophisticated drones. ” he said.

Russia has been able to get more than that since U.S. aid stopped flowing to Ukraine this year. 360 square kilometers, or approximately 139 square miles of land — According to the Institute for the Study of War, its area is roughly the size of Philadelphia.

As Ukraine is forced to pivot to national defense, Russia’s arsenal is strengthened by missile and drone deliveries from Iran and North Korea, while economic aid from China helps Russia ease the impact of sanctions. He was instrumental in supporting the Kremlin’s economic transformation. Scaffolding during wartime.

U.S. officials say Russia has also succeeded in replacing more than 315,000 soldiers killed and wounded in the fighting.

Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of U.S. European Command, said the Russian military is now 15 percent larger than it was during the invasion of Ukraine. Congressional testimony before Saturday’s vote.

“Over the past year, Russia has increased its front-line troops from 360,000 to 470,000,” he said. Ukrainian officials have warned that Russia is preparing for a major offensive in late spring or early summer.

Russia has so far failed to exploit Ukraine’s lack of troops and weapons to achieve a major breakthrough, but military analysts say it may still be able to make significant progress in the coming weeks. I’m warning you that you can’t.

Russian forces continued to advance Saturday around Lieutenant Oleksandar’s firing position, west of the city of Avdiivka. They also attacked the strategically important hilltop fortress of Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine, taking advantage of gaps in Kiev’s exhausted air defenses to drop drops from fighter jets that could fly closer and closer to the front lines. Destroying Ukrainian fortifications with powerful one-ton bombs.

If Kremlin forces were to capture vital high ground in the region, it would threaten the Donbas region’s largest urban cluster, which remains under Ukrainian control.

At the same time, Russia continued to bombard towns and cities across the country with long-range drone and missile attacks, destroying homes, port infrastructure, and energy facilities.

Ukraine’s allies have said they are rushing to find more sophisticated air defense systems, such as the U.S.-made Patriots deployed across Europe to support Kiev, but Ukrainians say Moscow is I’m hoping the system is trying to do as much damage as possible before it arrives.

Every day for more than two years, rescue workers have raced to rescue people from the rubble of bombed buildings from Odessa on the Black Sea to Sumy, near the Russian border in northern Ukraine. It was conducted.

“But today it is still a little different,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an address to the nation on Saturday night. “Today, we received a long-awaited decision: the U.S. aid package we have fought so hard for.”

Zelenskiy said the effects would soon be felt “both on the frontline soldiers and on the cities and villages suffering from Russian terrorism.”

The Kremlin, which U.S. lawmakers say is orchestrating a sophisticated campaign to shape U.S. public opinion and undermine support for Ukraine, responded with a mix of expletives and fury. Ta.

Dmitri A. Medvedev, former president and deputy chairman of the Kremlin Security Council. issued a statement He “sincerely” hopes the United States “enters a new civil war as soon as possible.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov said: Said Military aid will only contribute to the “ruin” of Ukraine. He said the US “will have to answer for that” if the bill’s provisions that allow the US to seize billions of dollars in frozen Russian central bank assets to pay for Ukraine’s reconstruction are used. he warned.

Lieutenant Colonel Oleksiy Kirchenko, 30, commander of a Ukrainian brigade fighting near Robotyn on the Southern Front, said the new weapons would allow Ukrainians to fight “even harder and with more courage.”

“This support from the American community will save the lives of our soldiers and strengthen them across the front lines,” he said. “We will use this aid to strengthen our military and end a war that Russia should lose.”

The vote in the House also lifted the spirits of the volunteer military, which has helped sustain Ukrainian soldiers throughout the war.

“Today is a great day,” said Olena Detzel, founder of the volunteer organization. three people in a canoewhich raises funds to meet the immediate needs of soldiers, including helping those who lost limbs in combat receive treatment in the United States.

“The news of financial support from the US is like a breath of fresh air,” she said. “It gives us an understanding that we are not alone in this fight.”

Liubov Sholudko contributed reporting.

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