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Ukraine ‘shocked’ US has not yet passed aid package

Ukraine’s foreign minister has said he is shocked the United States had not yet approved a new package of wartime aid, as it struggles with battlefield shortages two years into Russia’s invasion.

The $60 billion (€55bn) aid package has been held up in the US House of Representatives for months, as Republican politicians insist new funds be linked to more action against illegal immigration.

“What really matters and what does shock us is that the decision has not been adopted yet,” Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba said in an online briefing for foreign media.

“We are approaching the end of March and deliberations continue, deliberations on the issue of vital interest, strategic interest of the US in Europe,” Mr Kuleba said.

His comments come a day after President Volodymyr Zelensky said a swift decision from Congress was “critically important” during a meeting with US Senator Lindsey Graham.

Ukrainian troops have reported ammunition shortages as a result of the delay, while Russian forces have been advancing along parts of the front line.

The aftermath of a Russian attack in Kostyantynivka, Donetsk earlier this year

Earlier, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin promised that the United States will not let Ukraine fail in fighting off Russia.

At the opening of a meeting in Germany of Ukraine’s international supporters, Mr Austin said “The United States will not let Ukraine fail”, at which he is seeking to secure further assistance for Kyiv.

“We remain determined to provide Ukraine with the resources that it needs to resist the Kremlin’s aggression,” he said.

The US announced $300m in assistance for Ukraine last week, but Mr Austin said it was only possible due to savings on recent purchases.

“We were only able to support this much-needed package by identifying some unanticipated contract savings,” Mr Austin said.

Mr Zelensky said in a statement the day before that it is “critically important for us that the Congress soon completes all the necessary procedures and makes a final decision” on aid for Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said a swift decision from Congress was ‘critically important’

Top US military officer General Charles ‘CQ’ Brown told journalists en route to the Ukraine meeting that Kyiv’s troops are “having to pay attention to their supply rates and how they execute”.

There is an “incremental kind of back and forth between Ukraine and Russia”, with “incremental gains on both sides”, Mr Brown said.

However, he noted that “even as the Russians have gained territory, they do it at a pretty big cost in number of casualties, like in personnel, but also in number of pieces of equipment that are being taken out”.

Mr Austin said in his remarks that “Russia has paid a staggering cost for (President Vladimir) Putin’s imperial dreams”, using “up to $211bn to equip, deploy, maintain, and sustain its imperial aggression against Ukraine”.

“At least 315,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded” since Russia launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Mr Austin said, adding that Ukraine has also “sunk, destroyed, or damaged some 20 medium-to-large Russian navy vessels”.

The sinkings have been an embarrassment for Moscow, and Russian state media confirmed the country had replaced the head of its navy.

Mr Austin and other US officials have spearheaded the push for international support for Ukraine, quickly forging a coalition to back Kyiv after Russia invaded and coordinating aid from dozens of countries.

Speaking at the Ramstein US base, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said Berlin has offered another €500m worth of military aid to Ukraine.

“That includes 10,000 rounds of ammunition from the stock of our armed forces,” he told journalists.

Germany is Ukraine’s second biggest donor of military support, after the US, which has committed tens of billions of dollars to aid Ukraine since February 2022.

However, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has in recent months come under intense fire for his refusal to deliver long-range Taurus missiles to Ukraine.

Speaking at a forum, Mr Scholz hit out at domestic critics, saying the debate was “embarrassing for us as a country”.

Germany fears that Taurus missiles could be used to hit targets deep within Russia.

Mr Scholz had repeatedly insisted that “German soldiers must not be linked at any point or place to the targets that this system reaches”.

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