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Finally': relief and optimism in Kyiv after US approves new aid

Kyiv, Ukraine | April 22, 2024, Monday @ 07:55 in World » GENERAL | By: AFP | Views: 2172
Finally': relief and optimism in Kyiv after US approves new aid

This handout photograph taken and released by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Service on April 19, 2024, shows Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) awarding a Ukrainian serviceman at the frontline positions in Donetsk region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Handout / UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP)

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Despite gloomy weather, Ukrainians in the capital Kyiv were cheerful and cautiously optimistic on Sunday after their biggest ally Washington approved $61 billion in new war-time aid.

The package, which the US House of Representatives passed Saturday after months of infighting, comes as Ukrainian forces face a critical shortage of munitions on the battlefield and air defences to protect civilians.

"It's finally happened," 50-year-old nurse Oksana told AFP.

"We're really looking forward to it. It will help a lot," she added. "The most important thing is to have something to defend ourselves with. Both civilians and our guys."

Washington is Kyiv's leading financial and military backer, delivering much of the hardware it uses on the battlefield.

The bill passed Saturday would provide Ukraine with nearly $14 billion to train, equip and finance the needs of its army.

But Kyiv would also receive $10 billion in "forgivable loans" for vital economic and budgetary support, including for badly-damaged energy and infrastructure sectors.

"People and architecture are suffering," said 19-year-old barber Dmytro.

But despite the delay, he was optimistic.

"Of course, it's not too late," he said.

"With the amount of weapons we've been given", he added, "We won't give up any more territory and will definitely not go back."

- 'It will save our lives' -

Afer the vote passed, analysts warned it would take time for Ukraine to feel the benefit.

The bill still needs to pass the Senate and be signed off by US President Joe Biden, and only then can the lengthy process of transporting aid to the war-torn country begin.

This "will likely mean that new US assistance will not begin to affect the situation on the front line for several weeks," the Institute for the Study of War said in its daily assessment Saturday.

Highlighting the pressure facing Kyiv's outgunned army, Russia said Sunday it had captured another village near the key battleground town of Chasiv Yar, where it has been concentrating its offensive.

"Help should be provided to Ukraine immediately. Because the guys are suffering at the front line," 61-year-old railway worker Stepan told AFP in Kyiv.

Moscow has made a string of gains on the front in recent months, pressing its advantage as Ukraine lacks the artillery needed to push back invading Russian troops.

"Shells are really needed at the front line," Stepan said. "We've been waiting for this for long, long bloody years."

But he added: "The guys are very happy about it -- those who are fighting."

Kyiv has also urgently asked for air defences, which President Volodymyr Zelensky has said are desperately needed as Moscow ramps up air strikes.

But for now, most were relieved the aid was on its way.

"It will save our lives," Oksana said.

© Agence France-Presse

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