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Zelenskyy Welcomes Sweden's $683 Million Military Aid Package


FILE - A Swedish-made Archer self-propelled howitzer of Ukraine’s 45th separate artillery brigade fires at Russian positions in the Donetsk region, Dec. 16, 2023.
FILE - A Swedish-made Archer self-propelled howitzer of Ukraine’s 45th separate artillery brigade fires at Russian positions in the Donetsk region, Dec. 16, 2023.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday welcomed a $683 million military aid package from Sweden, which comes as Ukrainian leaders continue to push for more international help in their fight against Russia's full-scale invasion.

Zelenskyy called Sweden's support "a significant contribution to Ukraine's resilience in the face of Russian aggression and a powerful investment in preserving peace and freedom in Europe."

"Artillery ammunition, air defense, grenade launchers, combat boats, armored vehicles, and other items are meeting some of our frontline warriors' most pressing needs," Zelenskyy posted on social media.

Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson said the aid package was the largest yet his country is supplying to Ukraine, and that the equipment and weapons meet "some of Ukraine's most pressing needs."

"Ukraine is not only defending its own freedom but that of all of Europe," Jonson said. "Sweden will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. Russia cannot be allowed to win this war."

Ukrainian Prime Minister Shmyhal said Tuesday that while Ukraine's military has gotten U.S. and European support, it needs more long-range missiles to bolster its air defenses against Russian attacks.

"Unfortunately, now they prevail in the air and unfortunately this leads to some consequences from the frontline," Shmyhal said.

Zelenskyy said Monday after visiting the front line near the northeastern city of Kupiansk that Russia is exploiting delays in military aid to Ukraine.

"There is now an extremely difficult situation in several parts of the front line, precisely where Russian troops have concentrated maximum reserves," Zelenskyy said.

Ukraine's biggest supplier of military aid, the United States, has not delivered a new round of aid since December when funding ran out.

U.S. President Joe Biden has struggled to push a $95 billion package of international security assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan through Congress over the opposition of numerous Republican lawmakers.

Biden said Monday he would be willing to meet with House Speaker Mike Johnson to discuss the issue.

"Sure I'd be happy to meet with him, if he has anything to say," Biden told reporters Monday.

At the same time, Biden swiped at Republican lawmakers for not continuing to fund

Ukraine's two-year fight to defend itself against Russia's invasion.

"The way they're walking away from the threat of Russia. The way they're walking away from NATO. The way they're walking away from meeting our obligations ... I've never seen anything like it," Biden said.

A spokesperson for Johnson said the speaker had been trying to meet with Biden for weeks. Raj Shah welcomed Biden's "openness to meeting with Speaker Johnson about the best path forward for securing the nation," and said, "It's long overdue."

With bipartisan support, the Democratic-controlled Senate approved the spending package. Johnson, leader of the narrow Republican majority in the House of Representatives, has balked at sending the measure to the House floor for a vote, in part because former President Donald Trump opposes the new aid.

Johnson has complained that the foreign assistance package contains no new controls to block the influx of tens of thousands of illegal migrants crossing from Mexico into the United States. But Senate Republicans, at the behest of Trump, blocked consideration of a bipartisan proposal to tighten migration restrictions.

Russia sanctions

Ukraine's military reported fresh Russian drone attacks Tuesday, while pressure built toward new sanctions against Russia following the death of imprisoned opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

Ukraine's air force said the country's air defenses destroyed all 23 Russian drones. The intercepts happened over multiple regions of Ukraine, including Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson and Mykolaiv.

The Russian attack also included four guided missiles. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

Shmyhal on Tuesday urged Japan and the European Union to enact new sanctions against Russia.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin "will be held accountable" for Navalny's death.

Biden said Monday his administration is considering additional Russia sanctions, and he blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian leader's "thugs" for Navalny's death last week.

"We already have sanctions," Biden told reporters at the White House, "but we're considering additional sanctions, yes."

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

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