US House members express 'overwhelming' support for Ukraine aid during visit to Kyiv

U.S. Representative Mike Turner speaks at a news conference on Feb. 9, 2024, in Kyiv (Vladyslav Kudryk/ The Kyiv Independent)

A delegation of four members from the U.S. House of Representatives arrived in Ukraine on February 9, led by House Intelligence Chair Republican Mike Turner of Ohio. The bipartisan delegation, which also included Republican French Hill of Arkansas and Democrats Jason Crow of Colorado and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, aimed to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and convey continued support for Ukraine.

Addressing the media in Kyiv, Turner emphasized the commitment of the United States to stand in full support of Ukraine. The delegation's visit comes as military aid for Ukraine remains pending approval in Congress.

"We came today so that we can voice to President Zelensky and others that we are seeing that the United States stands in full support of Ukraine and is working diligently in the House of Representatives and the Senate to secure the funding that is necessary in 2024 for the U.S. support for Ukraine and their defense of Russian aggression," Turner stated during the press conference.

The U.S. Senate had recently advanced a $95 billion foreign aid bill, including provisions for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. However, the funds are awaiting final approval, and the House delegation aimed to express urgency in resolving the legislative process.

"We are aware, of course, that the Senate is taking action right now to begin to move another piece of legislation that hopefully can resolve this. These are largely procedural and not substantive debates that are occurring in Congress," added Turner.

The proposed aid package includes $60 billion earmarked for Ukraine, along with allocations for Israel, humanitarian assistance, and support for regional partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink stressed the immediate need for assistance, stating, "Ukraine needs our assistance now. And I am personally quite grateful for the support of these members, as well as so many members of Congress."

The congressional delegation also engaged with representatives of Ukraine's Security Service and the Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate before their scheduled meeting with President Zelensky. The visit underscores the bipartisan commitment in the U.S. Congress to bolster Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression.

Ukraine facing 'critical shortage' of missiles, military hardware

Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, has issued a plea for urgent support, emphasizing a "critical shortage" of military hardware, including missiles, amid the ongoing conflict with Russia. In an interview with Bloomberg published on February 8, Markarova urged U.S. lawmakers to expedite approval for a $60 billion aid package for Ukraine, stating that the country is running out of essential equipment needed for defense.

Markarova highlighted the immediate need for missiles and interceptors, underscoring the impact of the aid impasse on Ukraine's battlefield capabilities. Despite a strong resolve among Ukrainian forces, the scarcity of military hardware poses a significant challenge to the country's defense efforts.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov recently acknowledged a "critical" shortage of artillery shells, emphasizing that Russia currently possesses the capacity to launch three times the number of shells per day compared to Ukraine.

Expressing optimism, Markarova stated that a $95 billion "Plan B" funding package, which includes support for Ukraine and Israel, has advanced in the U.S. Senate. The Senate's recent vote to proceed with the foreign aid package, despite missing bipartisan border security reforms, is seen as a positive step. However, the bill's fate in the Senate remains uncertain, and its approval in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is unclear.

Markarova stressed the urgency of maintaining strong U.S. support for Ukraine, emphasizing the need for swift action to address the critical military hardware shortage. As the conflict continues, the success of the aid package becomes crucial in ensuring Ukraine's resilience in the face of Russian aggression.

Syrskyi reveals his priorities as Ukraine's new chief commander

Сирський - новий головнокомандувач ЗСУ. Що про нього відомо - BBC News  Україна

Ukraine's newly appointed Commander-in-Chief, Oleksandr Syrskyi, has outlined his priorities in managing the ongoing conflict with Russia, which is entering its third year. President Volodymyr Zelensky appointed Syrskyi, replacing General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, a move that comes after months of speculation about a rift in Ukraine's military leadership.

Syrskyi, who previously served as the head of Ukraine's Ground Forces and played a key role in notable battles, including the Battle of Kyiv and the Battle of Bakhmut, outlined his vision in a social media post. One of his primary tasks is to focus on clear and detailed planning for all military administration bodies, emphasizing the efficient distribution of new weaponry provided by allies to front-line units.

The new military commander underscored the importance of military logistics, stating that the "fastest and most rational distribution" of necessary resources for combat units remains a top priority. This aligns with President Zelensky's expectation that the new military leadership will address logistics challenges and ensure a fair distribution of Western-provided arms in favor of the front line.

Syrskyi emphasized his commitment to the well-being of Ukrainian Army personnel, balancing combat tasks, unit recovery, and training intensification. Despite some criticism from soldiers and volunteers, Syrskyi's loyalty to Zelensky and his alignment with the Presidential Office's position were noted.

As a strategic priority, Syrskyi highlighted the introduction of new technical solutions, including the use of unmanned systems and modern electronic warfare tools. Ukraine has been actively working to boost domestic weapons production, particularly attack drones, which have proven crucial on the battlefield. Zelensky recently signed a decree creating a separate branch of Ukraine's Armed Forces dedicated to drones.

Syrskyi concluded his post by emphasizing the significance of a reliable rear, stating that it is a crucial component of overall success in war. He is expected to present a new team of the Armed Forces' leadership in the coming days, as Ukraine navigates the challenges posed by Russia's full-scale invasion.