Photo: Ken Cedeno/Reuters

Saturday’s Coverage: US House Moves Towards Vote on $61 Billion in Aid to Kyiv

Map: Institute for the Study of War


In an interview with US television, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said that the country will not be a “second Afghanistan” as the bill for $60.8 billion in US aid goes to the Senate for confirmation.

We really need to get this to the final point. We need to get it approved by the Senate….so that we get some tangible assistance for the soldiers on the frontline as soon as possible, not in another six months.


A missile has set a Russian warship on fire in occupied Sevastopol in Crimea.

The Russian proxy governor Mikhail Razvozhayev acknowledged the strike, but insisted that the missile was “repelled” and “fragments caused a small fire, which was quickly extinguished”.

A source in Ukrainian military intelligence said information on the strike is still being clarified.


Using publicly-available sources, the independent Russian outlet Mediazona and BBC Russian have confirmed the identities of 50,471 Russian troops killed during Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Almost 1,200 names have been added since the last update in late March. They were compiled from obituaries, posts by relatives, regional media news, and the reports of local authorities.

The outlets emphasize that the actual death toll is likely to be far higher.

Ukraine’s General Staff says Russia has lost 459,530 soldiers during the 26-month invasion.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Overcoming a 6 1/2-month blockade by Trumpists and hard-right Republicans, the US House approved $60.8 billion in military aid for Ukraine on Saturday.

The measure passed 311-112. All 210 Democrats voted Yes. They were joined by 101 Republicans, with 112 objecting.

The House also accepted measures for use of the profits of frozen Russian assets; $26 billion in assistance to Israel and humanitarian aid to Gaza; $8 billion for Taiwan and other Asia-Pacific allies; sanctions on Iran, and action against Chinese-owned TikTok.

All of the measures will be combined in a package for consideration by the Senate, which adopted the assistance provisions in mid-February.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took procedural steps on Saturday for the Senate to begin voting on package on Tuesday afternoon. The chamber, which was supposed to be in recess next week, is convening for passage of the legislation.

The Trumpists and hard-right Republicans initially held up the Biden Administration’s request for $60.1 billion in budget authorization for Ukraine last October. At the same time, they ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy and helped install Johnson.

Johnson held out for months against any vote over Ukraine, even after the Senate’s bipartisan passage of assistance. But he shifted his position earlier this month, amid warnings by US intelligence agencies and other officials that Russia’s 26-month invasion would finally end Ukraine’s resistance if the aid blockade continued.

GOP Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska said the briefings were the turning point:

He’s always said he was for Ukraine, and I’ve always believed him. I think he just came to the conclusion we couldn’t wait any longer. He was briefed that we had to get this done in April or bad things were going to happen to Ukraine.

The move towards final votes was also bolstered by last Sunday’s Iranian missile and drone attacks on Israel.

After the months of stalling, the passage was rapid. A procedural motion on Friday cleared the way, and yesterday’s vote came several hours earlier than expected. The House chamber erupted into applause with some legislators waving Ukrainian flags.

A US military official said certain muntions can be sent “almost immediately” to Ukraine from European storehouses, including 155mm rounds, other artillery, and some air defense rounds.

“Democracy and Decency Rather Than Autocracy and Evil”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the former Democratic Speaker, appealed during the floor debate.

I hope our colleagues will choose democracy and decency rather than autocracy and evil because I fear if you choose the Putin route, you will have blood on your hands, blood of the children, blood of their mothers raped in front of their parents, raped in front of their children.

Immediately after the vote, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy posted, “I am grateful to the United States House of Representatives, both parties, and personally Speaker Mike Johnson, for the decision that keeps history on the right track. Democracy and freedom will always have global significance and will never fail as long as America helps to protect it.”

He added in his nightly address to the nation, “We will undoubtedly use American assistance to strengthen both of our nations and bring a just end to this war closer, the war that Putin must lose.”

Ukrainian troops, who had been holding out against Russian assaults in the east and south of the country, also expressed gratitude.

An intelligence officer in the Zaporizhzhia region in southern Ukraine said, “We thought that our partners had forgotten about us. This news gives us a sense of support and understanding that we have not been forgotten.”

An artillery reconnaissance commander, who spent two years defending Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine before it fell to Russia in mid-February, amplified:

When we feel support from the outside, it motivates us. After all, the military knows it cannot win with sticks and bows and arrows. For people who want to defeat the enemy, this news is a great morale booster.

Kremlin and Extremist Republicans Fume

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova fumed that the assistance will “exacerbate global crises”. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov railed, “The decision to provide aid to Ukraine was anticipated and predictable. This will make the United States of America far richer but will ruin Ukraine further, making more Ukrainians killed because of the Kyiv regime.”

Moscow’s criticism was accompanied by conspiracy theorist and GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia: “I’m actually gonna let my colleagues go home and hear from their constituents, because I think people have been too obsessed with voting for foreign wars and the murder industry here in America to actually understand how angry Americans are.”

Greene and Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky said they will give Speaker Johnson a chance to resign before they pursue a vote to remove him.

Greene insisted, “If we had the vote today in our conference, he would not be speaker today. He’s already a lame duck, he can’t raise money, everyone knows it.”

But other Republicans joined Democrats in applauding Johnson’s shift. Rep. Marc Molinaro of New York said, “It is clear to me that there are moments in time where we must do the right thing, and today we did that.”

Rep. Jen Kiggans of Virginia added, “I’m very proud of Mike Johnson. I know what he did today was difficult, but there was a lot of us standing by him, and you saw great bipartisan effort today. And that’s what Americans want to see.”

Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, summarized, “I have tremendous respect….He had a learning curve, but at the end of the day, he knew what the right thing to do was.”

Johnson brushed away the threats to oust him, “I have to do my job….I’ve done here what I believe to be the right thing to allow the House to work its will.”