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28 Apr, 2024 22:59

Zelensky wants ten more years of US funding

The Ukrainian leader has said he is working on getting a long-term assistance package from Washington
Zelensky wants ten more years of US funding

The latest US aid package for Kiev, which was only approved by Congress after more than six months of partisan feuding, might be small potatoes compared to what Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has in mind for his biggest benefactor.

Kiev is negotiating with the administration of US President Joe Biden on a long-term agreement that would put Washington on the hook to provide Ukraine with military, economic, and political support for the next decade, Zelensky said on Sunday in his daily video address. Such commitments are needed to ensure Ukraine has the “efficiency in assistance” it needs to stem recent battlefield advances by Russian forces and gain the upper hand, he said.

“We are working to commit to paper concrete levels of support for this year and for the next ten years,” Zelensky said. “It will include military, financial, and political support, as well as what concerns joint production of weapons.”

Ukraine has already signed bilateral security agreements with several NATO members, including the UK, Germany, and France. Zelensky said he wants the long-term deal under negotiation with Washington to be the strongest pact yet.

However, Ukraine’s bilateral agreements with Western countries so far have stopped short of mutual-defense commitments. The deals merely pledge long-term aid, including support in the event of a future attack, and they are not legally binding. The agreement with Berlin, for instance, can be terminated with six months’ notice.

Zelensky said he wants Ukraine’s bilateral pact with Washington to include specific levels of aid. “The agreement should be truly exemplary and reflect the strength of American leadership,” he said.

US lawmakers approved $61 billion in additional aid for Ukraine earlier this month, after House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) overrode opposition in his own party to pass the bill with unanimous Democrat support. The Biden administration ran out of funding for Ukraine aid earlier this year, after using up $113 billion in previously approved assistance packages.

Republican lawmakers have argued that Biden is merely prolonging the bloodshed in Ukraine without offering a clear strategy for victory or a peace deal with Russia. A poll released in February showed that nearly 70% of Americans want Biden to push for a negotiated settlement with Moscow, involving compromises on both sides, rather than continuing to fund the conflict.

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