President Biden signed law providing $40 billion in aid to Ukraine while attending a state dinner in South Korea, after Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy indicated he might be ready to cede territory to Russia in order to save civilian lives.
The bill, which Congress passed with bipartisan support, includes $20 billion in military aid and intelligence support, $8 billion in general economic assistance, $5 billion to address global food shortages resulting from the collapse of Ukraine’s Agriculture could result, and more than $1 billion in aid to refugees.
The bill was served on Biden in unusual circumstances: a U.S. official carried a copy on a commercial flight to Seoul for the president to sign after it was held up in the Senate by Rand Paul of Kentucky for a week, according to a White House official.
The signing of the law sparked speculation about exactly what weapons the US will send and when.
“Sources say it’s not yet the case that the US will be supplying Ukraine with MIM-104 Patriot systems any time soon.” tweeted Illia Ponomarenko, a defense reporter for the Kyiv Independent news agency. “Such an option is seen as a long-term post-war step to support Ukraine as a strong regional military power ensuring peace and stability.”
The signing came a day after Russia’s most significant victory in the nearly four-month-old war, the capture of the port city of Mariupol, and on the day that Zelenskyi celebrated the third anniversary of his inauguration.
Zelenskyy hinted that he might be ready to cede part of eastern Ukraine to Russia in order to spare the population.
“I believe that no matter what appetites different parts of our population have, the most valuable thing is to save more people and soldiers,” Zelenskyy said at a news conference on Saturday, according to Pravda Ukraine.
“No one is just giving anything away, but there are lands that they have entered and occupied and there are some areas that they have penetrated very far,” Zelenskyy continued. “To reach the line that existed before [February] 24th without unnecessary casualties I think…that would be a win for our country.”
“We broke the backbone of one of the strongest armies in the world. We have already done that. Including mentally. They won’t get back on their feet in the next few years,” said Zelenskyy. “But let’s not forget that all our soldiers also want to live.”
While Ukraine could win on the battlefield, the war will only end “at the negotiating table,” he said, according to the BBC.
The conflict “will be bloody, there will be fighting, but it will only be finally ended through diplomacy,” said Zelenskyy.
On Tuesday, Kyiv’s chief negotiator, Mykhaylo Podolyak, said talks were on hold. According to the BBC, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday accused the Kiev authorities of not wanting to continue talks to end hostilities.
Ukrainian forces repelled shells from Russia in several cities in the eastern Donbass region on Saturday.
At least 12 civilians were killed in the city of Severodonetsk, where thousands are still hiding under constant artillery fire, Sky News reported.
“Russians are crushing Severodonetsk like Mariupol,” Luhansk Governor Serhiy Hajday said in a post on Telegram, according to multiple reports.
The city normally has about 100,000 inhabitants. It is unclear how many civilians remain, but several thousand are believed to remain, including many elderly people who are refusing to leave their homes.
Some 50 miles west of Sevierodonetsk, the town of Sviatohirsk came under fire from Russian forces early Saturday morning, the Donetsk Oblast governor told the Kyiv Independent, destroying the local school.
The school was built in 2016 with the help of the UN and Japan, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said Tweet Share a video of the building being reduced to rubble.
Separately, Russia’s Gazprom stopped supplying gas to Finland. The shutdown comes days after Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO.
With postal wires
https://nypost.com/2022/05/21/biden-signs-40b-ukraine-aid-as-zelensky-hints-at-ceding-territory/ Biden signs $40 billion aid to Ukraine as Zelensky hints at a cession of territory