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Ukraine Reports Downing Russian Drones as Zelenskyy Thanks US for Aid

Written by on December 28, 2023

Ukraine’s military said Thursday that Russian forces attacked overnight using eight drones launched from Russian territory near the Sea of Azov.

The Ukrainian air force said on Telegram that its air defenses shot down seven of the drones over the Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovohrad and Zaporizhzhya regions.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Thursday its forces thwarted an attack by two Ukrainian drones targeting Crimea.

Ukrainian officials also said Thursday a Panama-flagged cargo ship hit a Russian naval mine in the Black Sea.

The officials said the ship was heading to a Danube River port to collect grain.

The incident sparked a fire on the ship and injured two people.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the United States for a new $250 million aid package, saying Thursday the military assistance will “cover Ukraine’s most pressing needs.”

“To defend freedom and security not only in Ukraine and Europe but also in the United States, we must continue to respond to ongoing Russian aggression in the most forceful and resolute manner possible,” Zelenskyy posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The Biden administration announced Wednesday the final drawdown of weapons and military equipment for Ukraine from U.S. stockpiles under the existing presidential authorization, with future assistance for Kyiv up to Congress.

The package includes air defense munitions, additional ammunition for High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, 155 mm and 105 mm artillery ammunition, and anti-armor munitions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“Our assistance has been critical to supporting our Ukrainian partners as they defend their country and their freedom against Russia’s aggression,” Blinken said, adding that the arms and equipment were being provided under previously directed drawdowns for Ukraine.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said last week that President Joe Biden was planning one more military aid package in December, but that assistance after that would require an agreement in Congress, where the prospects for a deal are uncertain.

“When that one’s done … we will have no more replenishment authority available to us, and we’re going to need Congress to act without delay,” Kirby said on December 18.

Blinken urged Congress to act swiftly on new aid for Ukraine, “to advance our national security interests by helping Ukraine defend itself and secure its future.”

Zelenskyy was in Washington December 12 to speak with U.S. lawmakers about Ukraine’s needs. Biden has proposed $61 billion in aid for Ukraine, along with additional military aid for Israel and Taiwan, but the legislation has been stalled by Republican demands that the administration address border security.

Senate leaders said after Zelenskyy’s visit that negotiators were “making encouraging progress” but “challenging issues remain.”

Some material for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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