EU’s top diplomat urges US to reconsider cutting Ukraine aid in interim budget bill
LONDON: The European Union’s foreign policy chief on Sunday called on US lawmakers to reconsider their decision to omit financial support for Ukraine in an interim budget bill passed by Congress to end the shutdown of the federal government.
Legislation approved Saturday to keep the federal government running until Nov. 17 dropped provisions for providing additional aid to Ukraine, a White House priority opposed by a growing number of lawmakers Republicans.
Speaking in Kiev after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said European officials were surprised by the last-minute deal reached in Washington and promised that the bloc of 27 would continue to help the invaded country defeat Russia.
“I hope that this will not be a final decision and that Ukraine will continue to have support from the United States,” Borrell said.
“We are facing an existential threat. The Ukrainians are fighting with all their courage and capabilities, and if we want them to succeed, we must provide them with better weapons and faster,” added the Spanish diplomat.
Ukrainian officials stressed that U.S. support for Ukraine would continue despite the interim legislation.
Andriy Yermak, head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said relations between America and Ukraine have not changed and that Ukrainian officials meet regularly with representatives of the Democratic and Republican parties.
“All major partners of Ukraine are determined to support our country until its victory in this war,” he wrote on Telegram.
However, the omission of additional aid to Ukraine from the package has raised concerns in kyiv, which relies heavily on Western financial aid and military equipment in its fight against the ongoing Russian invasion.
Just over a week ago, lawmakers met with Zelensky at the Capitol, who sought to assure them his military was winning the war but stressed that additional aid would be crucial to continue the fight.
Yet a recent House vote highlighted increased U.S. isolationism and growing resistance to providing additional aid as the war, now in its 20th month, continues.
Writing on Telegram, Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Goncharenko said on Sunday that kyiv must adopt new measures to ensure continued support from US officials and the general public. Without it, Goncharenko said, the Ukrainians have “practically no chance” of defending themselves.
He presented a list of proposals including permanently sending Ukrainian delegates to Washington.
“We need to speak the language of money with the United States: how will the United States benefit from Ukraine’s victory? What will the United States get? What will American taxpayers get? Goncharenko wrote. “We need to change strategy. We must act differently. Let’s fix this situation. We can’t lose.
Over the weekend, Russian bombings hit 11 regions of Ukraine in 24 hours, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry reported. A man was killed in Volchansk, Kharkiv region.
Russian forces also launched 30 drones into the south of the country on Sunday morning, 16 of which were shot down by Ukrainian forces, the ministry said.
Five people were injured in the barrage that hit towns in Ukraine’s Cherkasy, Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolaiv and Kharkiv regions, local officials reported.
In Russia, five Ukrainian drones were shot down over the Smolensk region, Governor Vasily Anokhin said on social media. He advised residents not to leave their homes unless necessary.
Another drone was destroyed in the Krasnodar region in southern Russia, where Sochi International Airport is located.
On Sunday, the funeral was held in kyiv for Volodymyr Myroniuk, 59, an American of Ukrainian origin killed last week in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. A 59-year-old freelance photographer who died last week in the eastern Donetsk region.
Myroniuk worked as a truck driver in the United States and returned to his country of birth to cover the 2014 Maidan protests as a freelance photographer. He then covered fighting between Ukrainian and Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, as well as the ongoing war following Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country.
Myroniuk died on September 26 while documenting the lives of front-line soldiers as they came under heavy Russian bombardment.
His daughter, Oleksadra Myroniuk, remembers her father always smiling and said he took his camera everywhere. Myroniuk never sold paintings but was passionate about photography and practiced it out of love for his country. His name was “John” and the Ukrainian soldiers gave him a truck with a plate bearing his name.
Separately, the new British Defense Secretary has underlined his support for Ukraine, suggesting that British military training of Ukrainian soldiers, which currently takes place at British bases, could move to western Ukraine.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Grant Shapps said he was in discussions with the British Army to “possibly bring the training closer together and send it to Ukraine as well”.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was quick to dismiss speculation about an imminent deployment of British soldiers to Ukraine. Shapps’ suggestion was not about the “here and now”, Sunak told reporters, but a “long-term” possibility.
“No British soldiers will be sent to fight in the current conflict. That’s not what’s happening,” Sunak said.
Russian politicians immediately criticized the proposal. Former President Dmitry Medvedev, who is deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, claimed that Shapps was actively pushing “toward a third world war.”
The British minister “will make his instructors a legal target for our armed forces, knowing full well that they will be mercilessly destroyed – not as mercenaries, but as NATO specialists,” Medvedev wrote on social networks .
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine more than 19 months ago, Medvedev, a law graduate, has become one of the most hawkish Russian officials, regularly issuing blustering remarks combining Latin mottos and legal expressions with four-letter words.
Observers have interpreted Medvedev’s rhetoric, which appears harsher than statements by former Kremlin hardliners, as an apparent attempt to curry favor with Putin.
Yan Gagin, adviser to the head of the Donetsk region in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine, also rejected Shapps’ idea, but without Medvedev’s fiery warnings. “Even if British instructors conduct training for the Ukrainian armed forces in Ukraine, this will not bring any results,” Gagin told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
“The failure of Ukraine’s counter-offensive has already shown the level of such training,” he added.
More than 23,500 Ukrainian recruits have received combat training at military bases across the UK since the start of 2022, receiving training in skills such as weapons handling and battlefield first aid. Earlier this year, the British government pledged to train an additional 20,000 recruits.
The training is part of a wider program of support for Ukraine that includes a pledge of 2.3 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) of anti-tank weapons, rocket systems and other hardware this year.
Shapps, who succeeded his predecessor Ben Wallace in August as defense secretary, said he also spoke with Zelensky in recent days about the British Royal Navy’s help in defending commercial ships in the Black Sea. He did not provide details.