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Zelensky thanks US Congress after Johnson bucks conservatives to pass Ukraine aid

Ukraine’s president thanked the United States Congress in an interview on Sunday after House Speaker Mike Johnson a day earlier bucked his party’s conservative wing and ushered through the passage of legislation providing military assistance to Kyiv.

Volodymyr Zelensky appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press and thanked Mr Johnson specifically for what he said was “a show of leadership and strength of the United States” after the House of Representatives approved a $60.8bn bill to help Ukraine purchase weapon systems and munitions and to restock US supplies that were depleted by previous aid packages.

The legislation is set for a final vote in the Senate on Tuesday where it is expected to pass; the upper chamber had originally voted on the legislation in February. The House took months to pick apart the legislation and make changes, while Ukraine’s military situation grew increasingly desperate. Mr Johnson finally brought the legislation to the floor this week only to suffer a major rebellion from conservatives; the legislation received more support from Democrats than Republicans on final passage.

“I would like to thank Speaker Johnson and President Biden,” Mr Zelensky said, adding that it would “send the Kremlin a powerful signal” about the US’s commitment to the war.

But that committment is far from ironclad, a fact that was evident on Sunday to members of both parties. Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska, a Republican, could not say that Washington would remain a committed ally to Kyiv if Donald Trump were at the helm in 2025 as he was interviewed on Face the Nation.

“If Donald Trump wins this next election, can you guarantee the US will stay with Ukraine?” asked CBS’s Margaret Brennan.

“I can’t guarantee anything,” Mr Sullivan replied.

Hungary’s rightwing prime minister, Viktor Orban, claimed earlier this year that the former US president told him privately that the US would end all military assistance to Ukraine if he were to return to the White House. MrTrump’s campaign has not directly denied this, but stated that the former president believes that European allies of the US should foot a higher bill for Ukraine’s defence and added that a negotiated end to the Russia-Ukraine war would be Mr Trump’s top priority.

“President Trump has repeatedly stated that a top priority in his second term will be to quickly negotiate an end to the Russia-Ukraine war,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in March.

“Also, President Trump believes European nations should be paying more of the cost of the conflict, as the US has paid significantly more, which is not fair to our taxpayers.”

In reality, an analysis from the Council on Foreign Relations shows that the US is in second-place when it comes to the ranking of entities providing Ukraine with aid — behind only the combined European Union and associated organisations.

Confusingly, one Republican senator with a reputation for flattering the former president still credited Mr Trump with the bill’s passage.

“Ukrainians are fighting like tigers. This aid package has a loan component to it and this would not have passed without Donald Trump,” Lindsey Graham told Fox’s Shannon Bream on Sunday.

But conservatives opposed to Ukraine aid are vowing to get revenge after their colleagues relied on Democratic votes to see the legislation passed through the House.

Marjorie Taylor Greene declared that Speaker Mike Johnson’s tenure as leader of the House GOP was “over” following the vote in an interview on Sunday.

“Mike Johnson’s Speakership is over. He needs to do the right thing and allow us to move forward in a controlled process, and if he doesn’t do so, he will be vacated,” she told Fox News’s Sunday Morning Futures.

President Joe Biden celebrated the House’s passage of the Ukraine aid bill on Saturday shortly after the vote, writing in a statement that GOP and Democratic supporters of the legislation “came together to answer history’s call”.

“Today, members of both parties in the House voted to advance our national security interests and send a clear message about the power of American leadership on the world stage,” said the US president.

Members of both parties cheered on the House floor after the legislation passed on Saturday during a rare weekend session; some even waved Ukrainian flags on the House floor, drawing an angry rebuke from conservatives who had opposed the legislation.

What’s in the full foreign aid package passed by the House:

Three pieces of legislation that were part of the national security supplemental passed by the Senate, as well as one piece of sidecar legislation dealing with Russia/Iran sanctions, passed the House on Saturday. Combined, they will provide tens of billions of dollars in security and military assistance to US allies in three regions.

Ukraine

The Ukraine portion of the bill is the largest. $60.8bn is earmarked for Ukraine in the bills passed on Saturday, with much being targeted to resupply vital air defences for the Ukrainian military. A Republican amendment to strip all non-defence spending from the bill failed.

Of the defence spending in the bill, $23bn is set aside to replenish US stockpiles drawn down by the effort to supply Ukraine, while another $11bn would support current US operations in eastern Europe. Nearly $14bn was targeted to help Ukraine purchase advanced weapon and defence systems.

A relatively smaller amount, $26m, was supplied to provide oversight efforts to ensure that US contributions to Ukraine are being disbursed correctly and fairly.

Israel

Much of the $26.38bn Israel bill is centred around restocking Israeli munitions required for its defences as well as the siege of Gaza, where Israel is attempting to wipe out Hamas militants. $4bn is included for resupplying the Iron Dome defensive grid, and $1.2bn is include for the so-called “Iron Beam”, a ground-based laser system used to take out drones and missiles.

$3.5bn is set aside to help Israel procure weapon systems, while nearly $7bn is marked for restocking US supplies and funding operations in the region.

Indo-Pacific

One last segment of the foreign aid package deals with Taiwan and other US allies in the Indo-Pacific region such as the Philippines. This smaller ($8.12bn) bill sets aside $3.3bn for the construction of submarine port infrastructure around the Indo-Pacific and includes roughly $4bn in assistance to Taiwan and regional military partners of the US. Just over a half billion is also provided to directly strengthen US military assets in the region.


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