Saturday May 25th, 2024 9:34AM

Ukraine thanks the US for billions in new military aid to help stop Russia's advance

By The Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian officials on Wednesday expressed thanks for $61 billion in new U.S. military aid that threw Kyiv’s armed forces a lifeline in their more than two-year war with Russia, even though the supplies aren’t expected to have an immediate impact on the battlefield.

“The key now is speed,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on the social platform X, previously Twitter. He urged quick deployment of the hardware that Kyiv expects to receive in the coming weeks and months.

President Joe Biden signed into law the aid package on Wednesday.

Ukrainian troops are far outnumbered by Russian forces and have faced acute shortages of shells and air defense systems as political quarrels in Washington held up the aid for months, allowing the Kremlin’s forces to inch forward in parts of eastern Ukraine in what has largely become a war of attrition.

Also Wednesday, U.S. officials confirmed the United States last month secretly sent Ukraine a number of long-range missiles that Kyiv has urgently sought so that its forces can hit Russian forces well behind the front lines. Ukraine used them for the first time last week to strike an airfield in occupied Crimea, the officials said.

The Army Tactical Missile Systems, known as ATACMs, have a range of some 300 kilometers (190 miles). More are expected to be sent to Ukraine as part of the new U.S. aid package.

Earlier this month, Ukraine lowered the conscription age from 27 to 25 in an effort to bolster the size of the military. In another sign the country is trying to redress the balance of fighting forces, the government on Wednesday said it would not allow men between 18 and 60 who are deemed fit for miliary service to renew their passports from outside the country.

The Cabinet of Ministers said that Ukrainian men of conscription age will only be able to renew their passports inside Ukraine.

Millions of Ukrainians have fled the country since Russia's full-scale invasion in 2022, mostly to neighboring European countries. The European Union's statistics agency, Eurostat, says 4.3 million Ukrainians are living in EU countries, 860,000 of them men 18 years of age or older.

Meanwhile, on the battlefield, the Russian army extended its bombardment of the northeastern Kharkiv region, and Ukrainian long-range drones struck more fuel and energy facilities inside Russia.

Two Russian S-300 missiles hit Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, near the border with Russia, wounding six people, and another two hit the Kharkiv region's town of Zolochiv. No casualties were reported there, local officials said.

Another missile hit the southern city of Odesa, injuring one woman, Mayor Hennadii Trukhanov said.

Ukrainian drones, meanwhile, targeted Russian infrastructure, setting ablaze two energy facilities in the western Smolensk region. Regional head Vasily Anokhin said the attack struck “civilian fuel and energy facilities” but provided no details.

Russia’s defense ministry said that eight drones were shot down overnight in the Belgorod, Smolensk, Kursk and Voronezh regions.

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Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor and Tara Copp in Washington contributed to this report.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News
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