©Health & Fitness Journal. FILE PHOTO: The Patriot missile defense system is seen at Sliac Airport in Sliac near Zvolen, Slovakia on May 6, 2022. REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa 2/7
By Steve Holland, Dan Peleschuk and Olena Harmash
WASHINGTON/Kyiv (Health & Fitness Journal) – U.S. lawmakers were due to approve a $45 billion aid package for Ukraine on Friday, as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy returned from Washington with promises of Patriot missiles to repel the Russian invasion.
The military and economic aid, which is part of a broader government spending bill, follows about $50 billion in US aid sent to Ukraine this year and sanctions the West has imposed on Russia and the now include a cap on Russian oil prices.
Russia responded to the cap on Friday by threatening to cut oil production by 5% to 7% early next year by halting sales to countries backing a measure aimed at curbing Moscow’s ability to finance the war .
Zelenskyy has long sought Patriot missiles to counter Russian airstrikes that have razed towns and villages and crippled electricity and water supplies across the country over the past three months during the 10-month conflict.
But US officials say the only Patriot battery that President Joe Biden Zelenskyy said would be shipped to Ukraine would not change the course of the war.
Washington and its allies were unwilling to provide Kyiv with modern main battle tanks and long-range missiles called ATACMS that could reach far behind the front lines and into Russia itself.
On Thursday, the US Senate approved $44.9 billion in new aid to Ukraine under a US government funding bill.
On Friday, the debate moved to the floor of the Democrat-led House of Representatives, where the gigantic $1.66 trillion spending bill, which includes Ukraine funds, was at stake. A vote was expected later on Friday, although the timing was not certain.
Kyiv and the Biden administration fear it could become more complicated to maintain US Congressional support for aid if Republicans win a narrow majority in the House of Representatives early in the new year.
A small number of right-wing Republicans oppose aid, and other lawmakers have called for tighter oversight.
Even as Ukraine struggles to survive, it is waging a war against corruption in the country to reassure international donors that their money is well spent.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow will find a way to counter the patriots while trying to end the fighting. “Our goal is not to turn the flywheel of the military conflict, but on the contrary to end this war,” he said.
In response, White House spokesman John Kirby (NYSE:) said Russia’s actions show that Putin is clearly determined to escalate his invasion.
“Everything But War”
In using the word war, Putin deviated from the usual Kremlin practice of describing his invasion as a “special military operation”.
A politician in St. Petersburg called on prosecutors to investigate Putin over his use of the word and accused the Kremlin chief of breaking his own laws to spread “disinformation”.
Nikita Yuferev, an opposition councilor in the city where Putin was born, said he knew his legal challenge would get nowhere, but filed it to expose the “falsehood” of the system.
The Kremlin said that “significant progress” had been made toward its stated goal of “demilitarizing” Ukraine.
Kyiv and its western allies say Moscow is waging an illegal war of conquest and suspect its repeated offers to negotiate on its own terms are a ploy to buy time after battlefield setbacks.
“We’re coming back from Washington with… something that will really help,” Zelenskyy said on his Telegram channel.
In later posts, he said he was back in Kyiv working towards “victory” and thanked the Netherlands for providing up to 2.5 billion euros ($2.65 billion) to Ukraine next year .
Ukraine has driven Russian forces out of areas around its capital, Kyiv, and its second-largest city, Kharkiv. Moscow is now focused on holding the areas in southern and eastern Ukraine occupied by its forces – about a fifth of the country.
Ukrainian forces have repelled attacks on at least 17 settlements in eastern Ukraine, the General Staff said early Friday.
It added that Kremlin forces launched 12 rocket and air strikes, including on civilian targets, off the front lines in eastern and south-eastern Ukraine.
The exiled mayor of Russian-held Melitopol in the south said more Russian troops had been brought into the city and fortifications were being reinforced so residents could now only walk.
A car bomb went off in the city earlier in the day, Ivan Fedorov added in his online media briefing.
Russian forces shelled the southern Kherson region 61 times in 24 hours, half of them inside the city of Kherson, killing one person, Governor Yaroslav Yanushevich said. Russia withdrew from this city last month.
In the neighboring region of Zaporizhia, a Russian-installed governor, Yevgeny Balitsky, said shelling at the nuclear power plant there “almost stopped” but that Russian troops would not withdraw.
Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of risking a nuclear disaster in fighting near the facility, the largest in Europe, and the United Nations has called for a safe zone there.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has called for a safe zone around the plant to reduce the risk of a nuclear disaster, said talks with the two sides were making progress on the issue.
Health & Fitness Journal could not confirm the battlefield reports.
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