‘We will have a chance at victory’ thaks to weapons provided in new US aid package

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday thanked U.S. political leaders for approving an aid package to Ukraine over the weekend, saying the newfound aid will give the country a chance at “victory” as the country defends itself from Russia.

“I think this support will really strengthen the armed forces, I pray, and we will have a chance at victory if Ukraine really gets the weapons system, which we need so much, which thousands of soldiers need so much,” Zelenskyy, who spoke via an interpreter, said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

The House on Saturday passed a bill providing Ukraine with $60.8 billion of aid weeks after the Senate passed a massive bill with aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, plus funding for increased border security. Speaker Mike Johnson opted not to put that bill bundling aid for the three countries on the floor, instead choosing to pass three separate aid bills.

Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on April 18 in Kyiv, Ukraine.Kay Nietfeld / dpa / picture alliance via .

The House bills are expected to pass the Senate this week, something Zelenskyy specifically urged.

“We really need to get this to the final point. We need to get approved by the Senate,” he said Sunday.

“Then we want to help get things as fast as possible so that we get some tangible assistance for the soldiers on the frontline as soon as possible — not in another six months — so that they would be able to move ahead,” he added.

In a statement after House passage of the bills, President Joe Biden said, “I urge the Senate to quickly send this package to my desk so that I can sign it into law and we can quickly send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield needs.”

Zelenskyy spoke about those urgent needs Sunday, telling moderator Kristen Welker, “We need long-range weapons to not lose people on the frontline because we have, we have casualties because we cannot reach that far. Our weapons are not that long-range.”

“We need [that] and air defense. Those are our priorities right now,” he added.

Asked whether this aid will help Ukraine win the war or just prolong it, Zelenskyy told Welker, “It depends on when we actually get weapons on the ground. As you said it, Kristen, if we get it in half a year — well, we’ve had the process stalled for half a year and we’ve had losses in several directions. Losses in men, in equipment.”

“Now we have the chance to stabilize the situation and to overtake the initiative, and that’s why we need to actually have the weapons systems, Zelenskyy added. “Giving the U.S. a specific timeline of the war, well it depends how soon they get this aid. There are so many variables, so many factors.”

Zelenskyy also responded to recent reporting that former President Donald Trump, if elected, would pressure Ukraine to give up some territory to Russia in exchange for ending the war, saying, “Rumors and different hearsay, I don’t believe that.”

He also expressed doubt that Putin would ever agree to and abide by such a settlement, telling Welker, “You can never trust Putin.”

“The strategy of ending the war should be based not on the words which Putin says or some other people from his entourage say, but on something very specific, something very tangible in Ukraine that is independent and democratic,” he said.

“I’m confident that everyone is interested in that,” he added. “All the political leaders, they are also interested to have Ukraine independent and sovereign and democratic. It’s of interest for both the Republicans and the Democrats.”

For weeks, Zelenskyy has expressed the urgent need for weapons and supplies to continue defending Ukraine from Russian attacks.

In the months that U.S. aid to Ukraine lapsed, Ukraine’s military supplied grew depleted and the military was forced to withdraw from one key eastern city — Avdiivka — in February. 

Earlier this month, Russia was firing five artillery shells for every one fired by Ukrainian forces, Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of the European Command, told NBC News. He warned that the disparity could increase in the near future without more aid.

On Sunday, Zelenskyy pushed back on complaints that the U.S. has sunk too much money into the war and will continue to have to do so, telling Welker, “[Americans] first and foremost are protecting freedom and democracy all over Europe.”

“The U.S. Army now does not have to fight protecting NATO countries. Ukrainians are doing that. And it’s only ammo that the civilized world is providing, and I think it’s a good decision,” he said.

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