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Ukraine reports downing Russian drones as White House pledges quick aid delivery


Smoke rises as a TV tower collapses after what local officials said was a missile attack, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine April 22, 2024, as seen in this screen grab taken from a video.
Smoke rises as a TV tower collapses after what local officials said was a missile attack, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine April 22, 2024, as seen in this screen grab taken from a video.

Ukraine’s military reported Tuesday destroying 15 of 16 Russian drones from the latest wave of aerial attacks, hours ahead of a U.S. Senate vote on a security package that includes $61 billion in new aid for Ukraine.

Ukraine’s air force said the Russian attack also included two ballistic missiles, and that Ukrainian air defenses shot down the Russian drones over the Cherkasy, Kyiv, Mykolaiv and Odesa regions.

Oleh Kiper, the regional governor of Odesa, said the drone attack damaged several residential buildings and injured at least nine people.

Vitaliy Kim, the governor of Mykolaiv, said falling drone debris injured one person and damaged a trade pavilion.

Russia’s defense ministry said Tuesday its air defenses destroyed four Ukrainian missiles over the Belgorod region.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor Belgorod, reported damage to a building but no injuries.

US aid

Britain announced Tuesday a $618 million aid package for Ukraine that includes 4 million rounds of ammunition, 1,600 munitions and 400 vehicles.

“Defending Ukraine against Russia’s brutal ambitions is vital for our security and for all of Europe,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement. “If Putin is allowed to succeed in this war of aggression, he will not stop at the Polish border.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed what he called “such a strong demonstration of support and for the willingness to further develop our defense cooperation, especially with an emphasis on maritime and long-range capabilities.”

“Storm Shadow and other missiles, hundreds of armored vehicles and watercraft, ammunition—all of this is needed on the battlefield,” Zelenskyy said on social media.

Ahead of the U.S. Senate vote on Tuesday, the White House said U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Zelenskyy, pledging to “quickly provide significant new security assistance packages to meet Ukraine’s urgent battlefield and air defense needs” as soon as the Senate passes the security bill.

Biden added that the U.S. 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.”

Zelenskyy, posting on social media, expressed his appreciation for the aid package and said Biden told him it would include strengthening Ukraine’s “air defense as well as long-range and artillery capabilities.”

Zelenskyy also said he told Biden about the "Russian air terror using thousands of missiles, drones and bombs" and added a Russian strike on a television tower in Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv, occurred minutes before their conversation.

Experts and Ukrainian lawmakers said it could take weeks for the assistance to reach troops, but expressed hope that the artillery rounds, precision-guided missiles and air defenses promised to Ukraine will change the military outlook for the country locked in a defensive war against Russia.

"With the boost that will come from military assistance, both practically and psychologically, the Ukrainians are entirely capable of holding their own through 2024 and puncturing [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s arrogant view that time is on his side," CIA Director William Burns said Thursday at the Bush Center Forum on Leadership in Dallas.

Nevertheless, uncertainties remain as to whether Ukraine can keep its defenses strong beyond 2024 according to analysts.

"Ukraine needs to use 2024 to rebuild its force for the long war," said Max Bergmann, director of the Europe, Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"Europe’s goal should be to put itself in a position to potentially fill a future gap left by the United States should it not pass another supplemental," he added.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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