President Biden Promised Speedy Delivery of U.S. Weapons to Ukraine

US President Joe Biden on Monday promised that tens of billions of dollars of much-delayed military aid would be “quickly” sent to Ukraine as the country suffered a new battering from Russian strikes and a top official warned that Ukrainian troops face worsening pressure.  

President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Biden for unblocking $61 billion in military assistance, speaking in a phone call in which the two leaders discussed the latest attacks including the toppling of a major television tower in the war-battered city of Kharkiv.

Their conversation came two days after the opposition Republican-dominated House of Representatives approved the aid after months of blocking tactics. The Democratically controlled US Senate is to take up the measure Tuesday, and Biden promised to sign the law as soon as it was passed.

Biden underscored America’s “lasting commitment” to Ukraine “as it defends its freedom against Russian aggression”, according to the White House.

Biden said the United States will “quickly provide significant new security assistance packages to meet Ukraine’s urgent battlefield and air defence needs”.

Zelensky posted on social media that he had thanked the US president for his “unwavering support”.

Biden told him the extra weaponry and hardware “will be powerful, strengthening our air defence as well as long-range and artillery capabilities,” Zelensky added.

He also announced Monday that talks for a “truly exemplary” security deal had begun between Kyiv and Washington, following several 10-year security agreements made with other NATO countries.

And he said plans have been finalised for the United States to provide Ukraine with the long-desired ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System).  

Ukrainian officials had warned for months that they desperately needed ammunition and air defences as they pleaded with US leaders to pass the military package.

Ukraine was also boosted by a promise from Norway of a “significant increase” in its aid, on top of $6.8 billion already pledged.

But European Union foreign and defence ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, failed to agree to concrete commitments. Ukraine has particularly asked for the Patriot air defence systems owned by several European countries.

Outgunned and outmanned Ukrainian forces have for months struggled to hold back Moscow’s troops.

In the city of Kharkiv, the red-and-white spire of the 240-metre (800-foot) television tower was toppled after local officials reported the latest Russian barrage.

Social media images showed plumes of grey smoke billowing around the large antenna and its upper half collapsing to the ground following an apparent strike.

The tower was last hit in the early days of the invasion launched in February 2022, when Russian ground forces nearly captured the city. Ukrainian officials have warned that Moscow is likely to push hard to gain more ground, including near Kharkiv, in coming weeks.

Russia also announced the capture of Novomykhailivka, a village about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Vugledar and new territory gained around the strategic town of Chasiv Yar. 

Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, told the BBC’s Ukrainian service, “In our opinion, a rather difficult situation awaits us in the near future” in the eastern part of the country, adding the struggle would intensify especially from mid-May.

He said, however, that while the situation would probably worsen, the fighting would not become “catastrophic”. “Armageddon will not happen,” he said.

Zelensky has warned that Russia would try to score battlefield victories before May 9 — a patriotic Russian holiday celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany — “regardless of its losses”. 

A senior aide to the Ukrainian leader, Mykhailo Podolyak, said that the US package had given the war-exhausted country a morale boost and that he hoped the support would soon bring results on the front. 

“New supplies of ammunition and equipment will enable the armed forces to repel the Russian offensive, and give our allies time to rethink their strategy,” he said on social media.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials said Monday one person was killed and one injured in a strike on Kharkiv, while in the southern city of Kherson, Russian shelling wounded two people, and a man was wounded in Selydove, a town in the Donetsk region. 

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