Biden will send Ukraine weapons once Senate approves aid package, says Zelensky

Ukraine is awaiting US Senate approval after the House of Representatives approved the 95 billion dollar package.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis) (Mindaugas Kulbis/AP)

Joe Biden has told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the US will send badly needed air defence weaponry once the Senate approves a massive national security aid package that includes 61 billion dollars (£49 billion) for Ukraine.

Mr Zelensky said on social media that the US president also assured him that a coming package of aid would include long-range and artillery capabilities.

Ukraine is awaiting US Senate approval after the House of Representatives this weekend approved the 95 billion dollar (£76 billion) package that also includes aid for other allies.

It comes after months of delay as some Republican legislators opposed further funding for Ukraine and threatened to oust speaker Mike Johnson if he allowed a vote.

Kyiv badly needs new firepower as Moscow has stepped up its attacks against an outgunned Ukraine. The Senate is expected to vote on the package this week, and Mr Biden has promised to quickly sign it into law.

Mr Zelensky said he and Mr Biden also discussed “Russia’s air terror using thousands of missiles, drones and bombs”, including a strike on the Kharkiv TV tower minutes before they spoke.

“Russia clearly signals its intention to make the city uninhabitable,” Mr Zelensky said

Russia has exploited air defence shortages in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, to pummel the region’s energy infrastructure and harm its 1.3 million residents.

Some officials and analysts warn it could be a concerted effort by Moscow to shape conditions for a summer offensive to seize the city.

Joe Biden (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Joe Biden (Andrew Harnik/AP) (Andrew Harnik/AP)

The White House confirmed that Mr Biden had told Mr Zelensky “that his administration will quickly provide significant new security assistance packages to meet Ukraine’s urgent battlefield and air defence needs as soon as the Senate passes the national security supplemental and he signs it into law”.

“President Biden also underscored that the US economic assistance will help maintain financial stability, build back critical infrastructure following Russian attacks, and support reform as Ukraine moves forward on the path of Euro-Atlantic integration,” according to the White House.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan delegation of US Congress members met Mr Zelensky in Kyiv on Monday.

The Ukrainian leader said they discussed Ukraine’s need for artillery shells, long-range missiles, electronic warfare equipment, unmanned aerial vehicles, combat aviation and support in developing the Ukrainian defence industry.

They also discussed Ukraine’s bid to eventually join Nato, US participation in an international conference in Switzerland in June aimed at charting a path towards peace in Ukraine, and other issues.