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Ukraine’s Government Downplays Uncertainty Over Support From Washington


Ukraine’s government said on Sunday it was confident that the United States would continue to support it in its war against Russia, even after the House passed a stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown that did not include any money for Kyiv.

The White House and leaders of both parties in the Senate had pushed for Ukraine funding to be included in the bill, which passed late Saturday. Members of both parties said they were confident that further financial commitments would be agreed to, but the failure to provide any money for Ukraine on Saturday highlighted the decreasing willingness of some Republicans to fund Kyiv’s war effort.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine had made the case for continued U.S. support during a visit to Washington last month, and his office suggested on Sunday that it was not unduly concerned.

“All key partners of Ukraine are determined to support our country until its victory in this war,” Andriy Yermak, the head of the president’s office, said in a post on the Telegram messaging app, adding that the Ukrainian government meets with both Republicans and Democrats. “The Ukrainian delegation returned from the United States of America with clear confidence that there are no changes in support.”

Mr. Biden — who welcomed passage of the stopgap bill but said that “we cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted” — has requested $24 billion in additional aid for Ukraine. That comes on top of about $113 billion in military, humanitarian and economic aid, which Congress has already approved.

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III urged Congress to honor its commitment to assist Ukraine. “America must live up to its word and continue to lead,” he said in a statement.

A spokesman for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said that while the stopgap bill would “not stop the flow” of U.S. aid to Ukraine, a government shutdown could have a “negative impact” on current programs.

The Ukrainian government was “actively working with American partners” to ensure that the new budget includes more aid for Ukraine, the spokesman, Oleh Nikolenko, said in a statement on Facebook.

“Support for Ukraine remains unwaveringly strong within the U.S. administration, in both parties and chambers of the U.S. Congress, and most importantly, among the American people,” he added.

Mr. Zelensky has sought to set the war in a long term perspective, and argued in an address on Sunday that Ukraine was at a “crossroads of history.”

“No one should and no one will manage to ‘switch off’ our resilience, endurance, grit and courage on either scheduled or emergency basis,” he said. “They have no ‘expiration date,’ ‘end date,’ or final point after which we would stop resisting and fighting, except for one — our victory.”

On Sunday, a nationwide moment of silence for fallen soldiers was held across the country — a tradition that Mr. Zelensky said would be observed each year. At 9 a.m. local time, church bells rang and people stopped in the streets of the capital.

Ukraine does not disclose military casualty figures, but U.S. officials said in August that the country had suffered close to 70,000 killed and 100,000 to 120,000 wounded. The toll, which the officials said is dwarfed by Russian losses, has continued to rise as Ukrainian forces wage a counteroffensive to retake land in the south and east of the country.

After months of bloody combat, little ground has changed hands this year and Ukraine is yet to achieve a decisive breakthrough.

At the same time, Ukraine has intensified attacks on occupied Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, in an attempt to disrupt Moscow’s supply lines. Russia’s defense ministry said Sunday that air defenses intercepted two Ukrainian missiles over the occupied peninsula. Falling debris damaged warehouses but there were no casualties, the Russian state news agency Tass reported, citing the Moscow-appointed governor of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov. The claim could not be independently confirmed.

Kyiv has also stepped up a campaign of drone attacks on military targets in Russia. Five Ukrainian drones were intercepted on Sunday over the city of Smolensk in western Russia, the regional governor, Vasily Anokhin, said on the Telegram messaging app. Another was downed in the Krasnodar region of southern Russia, Tass reported, prompting temporary flight restrictions at Sochi Airport.

Here’s what else is happening:

  • Russian shelling killed one person on Sunday in the northeastern Kharkiv region, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. Separately, Ukraine’s air force said that it had shot down 16 out of 30 exploding drones that Russian forces launched overnight. One person was injured when industrial infrastructure in the central region of Cherkasy was hit and a grain warehouse caught fire, according to officials. Russian attacks also wounded four people in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson overnight, a spokesperson for the regional military administration, Oleksandr Tolokonnikov, said on national television.

  • Britain’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, pushed back on remarks by his defense secretary suggesting that Britain was considering training Ukrainian troops inside Ukraine. The defense secretary, Grant Shapps, had raised the possibility in an interview with The Telegraph newspaper. But Mr. Sunak on Sunday told Sky News that the idea was “not for the here and now.”

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