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14 May, 2024 15:49

Ex-Ukrainian president accuses US of ‘undermining morale’

Viktor Yushchenko criticized the delay in Washington approving aid for Ukraine in an interview with the Associated Press
Ex-Ukrainian president accuses US of ‘undermining morale’

The months-long delay in the US Congress approving a new military aid package for Ukraine was a “colossal waste of time,” former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yushchenko has said in an interview with the Associated Press (AP) on Tuesday.

According to the ex-president, the months of political wrangling prior to Washington passing the bill that allocated $61 billion for Kiev’s war effort turned out to be beneficial for Russia, resulting in successes on the battlefield.

“A colossal waste of time to make a substantive decision regarding military aid to Ukraine. This was a kind of a message to Putin, [saying]: Do your job, attack infrastructure, rampage all over Ukraine,” said Yushchenko, who headed Kiev administration between 2005 and 2010.

He added that the delay had also “undermined the morale of those who stand with and support Ukraine,” sowing doubts among Kiev’s other Western backers regarding the country’s prospects and the outcome of the conflict.

He claimed the delay was “not fatal” to Ukraine, but had forced Kiev to rethink this year’s combat goals. The former leader urged Western supporters not to waste time making political decisions, explaining that “the front line is working 24 hours, it doesn’t take vacation.”

Ukraine has been running short of ammunition and weaponry since Washington’s previous funding package ran out earlier this year. The long-delayed emergency spending bill that includes new funding for Kiev was approved late last month after languishing in Congress since August last year. Many Republican lawmakers had previously refused to back the bill, tying their approval to demands for new funds to protect the country’s border with Mexico. However, they eventually signed off on it without securing any significant changes.

Washington has already rushed $1 billion worth of ammunition to Ukraine as part of the first installment of the aid package approved immediately after the bill was agreed. However, according to Ukrainian military commanders, the aid has been trickling in very slowly. Yurii Federenko, one of the commanders who spoke to AP, said it could take up to two months before incoming supplies meet Kiev’s current military needs.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is currently on a diplomatic trip to Kiev, said on Tuesday that US aid was “on its way,” but failed to give any exact timeframe.

Meanwhile, the Russian Army last week launched a new military offensive in Ukraine’s northern Kharkov Region, and has been steadily gaining ground near the country’s second-largest city. Moscow has repeatedly warned that Western aid and weapons shipments to Ukraine will only exacerbate and prolong the conflict.