Hopes rise huge new US aid package for Ukraine will be approved despite Republican hardliners opposing it

Hopes rise huge new US aid package for Ukraine will be approved despite Republican hardliners opposing it

Senior Republicans moved to break a stand-off in Washington and swiftly get approval for a huge new aid package for Ukraine.

A group of hard-line Republicans, allied to Donald Trump, have so far delayed the $60 billion (£48 billion) aid for Kyiv.

But their stance has been blamed for partly handing the upperhand on the battlefield to Vladimir Putin’s army as Ukrainian forces, suffering from munition shortages, struggle to hold territory in the face of Russian attacks.

Ukrainian leaders have also desperately urged allies to supply more air defence systems as cities, towns and energy infrastructure have coming under heavy attack from Russian drone and missile strikes.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson on Monday announced that there would be four bills and votes on more support for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, as well as US allies in the Indo-Pacific and US national security priorities.

Hard-line Republicans, who oppose more aid to Ukraine, are threatening to seek to oust Mr Johnson, but he stressed: “We know that the world is watching us to see how we react.

“They’re watching to see if America will stand up for its allies and in our own interest around the globe. And we will.”

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky compared allies including the US, Britain and France, helping Israel to defend itself so successfully against a huge Iranian attack to the support Kyiv is getting in the face of Vladimir Putin’s war.

“I thank everyone in the world, every leader and state, who truly assists us with air defence and missiles necessary to protect our skies, as well as training our pilots on F-16s,” he said.

“All of this already works and will continue to work to save lives.

“However, we can now see how unity can work truly a hundred percent, and how almost a hundred percent of “Shaheds” (drones) and missiles can be intercepted. We will discuss it with our partners.”

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron has warned Republicans not to show “the weakness displayed against Hitler” in the 1930s.

US aid has been delayed by Mr Johnson’s unwillingness to consider a $95 billion (£76 billion) bipartisan bill the Senate passed in February, including $14 billion (£11 billion) for Israel as well as $60 billion for Ukraine.

Also included were billions to strengthen allies in the Indo-Pacific, where China is becoming more assertive, and for international humanitarian aid.

Mr Johnson said the new House bills provide roughly the same amount of foreign aid as the Senate bill but would include differences including some aid in the form of a loan.

Republicans aim to release legislative text as early as Tuesday morning but will observe a 72-hour review period before voting.

Mr Johnson said votes on passage could come late on Friday.

It’s unclear if the House could end up with a package that is similar to the Senate’s bill or something significantly different, which could complicate the months-long, painstaking effort to get Congress to approve military funding for Ukraine.

The push to pass the aid for Ukraine gained urgency after Iran’s weekend missile and drone attack on Israel despite fierce opposition in the deeply divided Congress.

Ukraine aid backers had insisted the broad measure passed with 70 per cent support in the Senate would have received similar support in the House.

However, Mr Johnson had given a variety of reasons to delay, among them the need to focus taxpayer dollars on domestic issues and reluctance to take up a Senate measure without more information.

The House Freedom Caucus, a group of Republican hardliners with about three dozen members, released a statement on Monday calling for aid to Israel, but not to Ukraine, and rejecting as “bogus” any suggestion that the attack on Israel should help ease the path toward more funds for Kyiv.

The White House has been pushing Mr Johnson to allow a vote, as have Senate Republicans and Democrats.

“If House Republicans put the Senate supplemental (spending bill) on the floor, I believe it would pass today, reach the president’s desk tonight and Israel would get the aid it needs by tomorrow,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in the Senate on Monday.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told his fellow lawmakers: “It’s also time for Congress to deliver the urgent investments that our industrial base, our forces, and our partners will need to meet and out-compete the growing and linked threats we face.”