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17 Killed in Ukraine: Russian Missile Strike Ignites U.S. Aid Debate

Daniel Kim Views  

Amid uncertainty caused by the opposition of the hardline Republican opposition, Zelenskyy remarked, “If there had been sufficient air defense equipment, such incidents would not have occurred.”

On the morning of the 17th (local time), a Russian missile struck the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, resulting in at least 17 fatalities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed for support, citing a lack of air defense as the cause. A bill to aid Ukraine, delayed for months due to Republican opposition, is set to be voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives over the weekend, but its passage remains uncertain.

Reuters, citing local authorities, reported that three Russian Iskander cruise missiles hit the city of Chernihiv in Chernihiv Oblast around 9 a.m. on the 17th, killing at least 17 people and injuring 60, including three children. The blasts damaged hotels, residential buildings, a hospital, educational facilities, and dozens of vehicles.

Oleksandr Lomako, acting mayor of Chernihiv, criticized Russia on national television, stating, “Unfortunately, Russia continues to carry out terror attacks on civilians and civilian facilities, as confirmed once again by this attack on Chernihiv.”

Ukraine has urgently appealed for support for air defense equipment. According to a report on the 17th, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized through social media that “if the world had a strong will to provide Ukraine with sufficient air defense equipment and counter Russian terror, this would not have happened.”

During a special session of the European Union (EU) summit on the same day, he stated via video speech that incidents like the air raid on Chernihiv “happen every day. This demonstrates our recent key demand for air defense equipment.” Ukraine, which currently possesses three Patriot air defense systems, believes it needs 26 for nationwide defense.

In his video speech, President Zelenskyy mentioned how the U.S., UK, and other allies directly intervened with fighter jets to shoot down an attack on Israel’s mainland by Iran on the 13th. He urged for the same level of security for Ukraine, emphasizing, “All lives are equally precious,” and “the sky of Ukraine and our neighboring countries deserve the same security as Israel.”

In the U.S. Congress, there is a possibility of a breakthrough in aid to Ukraine, which Republicans have blocked for months. On the 17th, Republican House Representative Mike Johnson introduced three bills containing assistance for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

The aid package for Ukraine outlined in the bill is approximately $60.84 billion, with about one-third, or $23.2 billion, allocated for U.S. military weapons, stockpiles, and facility replenishment and $11.3 billion for U.S. military operations. $13.8 billion is earmarked to purchase advanced weapon systems, and $26 million is allocated for overseeing aid provided to Ukraine.

The aid package for Israel outlined in the bill is $26.38 billion, with $5.2 billion intended for expanding and supplementing Israel’s missile and rocket defense systems. $3.5 billion is allocated to purchase advanced weapon systems, and $1 billion is allocated for increasing weapon production. The budget to be provided to the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan, for defense against China is proposed at $8.12 billion.

The bill is expected to be voted on on the 20th, but its passage remains uncertain due to opposition from hardline Republicans. According to the British media outlet The Guardian, Representative Johnson suggested a border security bill to appease hardliners to be voted on the same day. However, hardline Republican Representative Scott Perry expressed dissatisfaction on social media, stating that “If Ukrainian aid is not linked to actual border security, it fails to live up to what Representative Johnson said just a few weeks ago.”

Hardliners, including Republican Representatives Thomas Massie and Marjorie Taylor Greene, threaten to oust Representative Johnson. While Johnson has dismissed the possibility of resignation for now, if he is ousted, the House will be paralyzed again following the removal of then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy last October. McCarthy was also forced to step down by hardliners for not reflecting their demands for significant budget cuts in the interim budget.

With the expectation of defectors from the Republican Party, the cooperation of the Democrats is projected to be necessary for the bill’s passage. On the 17th, Democratic House Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries told reporters, “The time has come for the House to act decisively in the interest of U.S. national security,” and confirmed that they are reviewing the bill. The Washington Post reported that while Democrats support the backbone of the foreign aid bill, they are cautious about the Republican bill as it could include content they oppose through amendments.

President Joe Biden stated on the 17th, “I strongly support this package to provide critical support to Israel and Ukraine, desperately needed humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and enhanced stability and security in the Indo-Pacific region. The House must pass this package this week, and the Senate must quickly follow.”

 ⓒAP=Yonhap News
Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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