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Ukraine in line for fresh US funding

By REN QI in Moscow | China Daily | Updated: 2022-05-12 07:46

Russia's emergency personnel clear debris at the site of a destroyed theater in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Tuesday. AFP

Bill moving through Congress would see $40b more sent as battles drag on

With Russian and Ukrainian forces entrenched in battles in Ukraine's eastern and southern regions, lawmakers in the United States on Tuesday approved an additional $40 billion in aid to Kyiv.

Washington's fresh supplies came after Ukraine said its much sought-after membership of the European Union was a question of "war and peace" for the whole continent against the backdrop of its conflict with Russia, well over two months after Moscow launched its "special military operation".

On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives' approval of the bill enabling fresh aid means that it will be sent to the Senate. Should the Senate approve it, the bill will be forwarded to US President Joe Biden for signing.

The bill implies the allocation of funds for military, economic and humanitarian aid to Kyiv, in line with requests made by Biden.

In response to the fresh supplies, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev accused the US on Wednesday of waging a "proxy war" against Russia.

Writing on social media network Telegram, Medvedev said that the bill approved by the House on Tuesday was a bid "to deal a serious defeat to our country and limit its economic development and political influence in the world".

Medvedev said: "It won't work. The printing press by which America is constantly increasing its already inflated government debt will break faster."

Aside from the US support, Kyiv also hailed what it said was EU powerhouse Germany's change of stance on a Russian oil embargo and on supplying arms to Ukraine.

The West has been under criticism for providing arms to Ukraine that many see as fueling the conflict.

Violence raged in the south, where missile strikes in Odessa overnight destroyed buildings, set ablaze a shopping center and killed one person, just hours after a visit by European Council President Charles Michel.

Officials also said some 1,000 troops remain trapped in increasingly dire circumstances in the Azovstal steelworks in the southern city of Mariupol.

Ukrainian border guards said on their social media channel that Russian forces were shelling the Sumy and Chernihiv regions close to the border.

In the country's south, Ukrainian armed forces said they struck nine enemy targets.

Russian forces also continued to bombard the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, trying to capture the last bastion of resistance in the city.

Elsewhere, Russia was trying to reinforce exposed troops on Zmiinyi Island, also known as Snake Island, reports said.

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin gave no hints on the military operation schedule in his speech before the Victory Day parade on Monday as expected, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said on Tuesday that the Russian leader will not end the Donbass campaign.

US intelligence also views it as increasingly likely that Putin will mobilize his entire country, including ordering martial law, and is counting on his perseverance to wear down Western support for Ukraine.

Fuel supply disruptions

Ukraine has remained a major route for Russian gas to Europe, though flows of Russian gas to Europe through a transit point in Ukraine dried up on Wednesday.

Ukraine's gas pipeline operator said it would redirect gas from the Sokhranivka transit point, an area occupied by Russian forces, to another site in a Ukraine-controlled area.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that contacts between Moscow and Kyiv regarding talks were continuing.

Zakharova also commented on US statements that Washington does not see a "viable negotiating path" for resolving the Ukrainian conflict.

"I think many of the statements are made under the influence of the change of the current US administration, which is now taking place. We should not be surprised at the scattered and contradictory statements we hear," she said.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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