NATO chief warns US aid delay harming Ukraine’s battle against Russia

A $95bn aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan requires approval from the US House of Representatives.

A local resident holds her dog as she stands near her apartment building damaged
A resident holds her dog as she stands near her apartment building, which was damaged during a Russian missile strike on Lviv, Ukraine, on February 15, 2024 [Roman Baluk/Reuters]

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that the delay in approving United States military aid to Ukraine is harming Kyiv’s forces as they battle against Russia’s invading troops.

Before a meeting of NATO defence ministers on Thursday, Stoltenberg said he “expects” the US Congress to agree to “continued support to Ukraine”.

On Tuesday, the US Senate approved a $95bn aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, but Speaker Mike Johnson, an ally of former President Donald Trump, has yet to put it to a vote in the lower chamber, the House of Representatives.

Stoltenberg said if Russia were to win the war, “it will not only be bad for the Ukrainians, a tragedy for Ukrainians, but also be dangerous for us. It will make the world even more dangerous and us more vulnerable.”

Earlier, Russia launched missiles on Ukraine, hitting infrastructure and damaging residential and commercial buildings, injuring at least 11 people in different parts of the country.

The Ukrainian military said seven Ukrainian regions were targeted, including the capital, Kyiv, and the cities of Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia and Lviv.

The air force said air defence systems shot down 13 of the 26 Russian-launched missiles.

(Al Jazeera)

On Thursday, military spokesman Dmytro Lykhoviy said the army is withdrawing some troops from the eastern town of Avdiivka to “more advantageous positions” to push Russian forces out of the country.

“The key announcement with regards to all this is that supplies to Avdiivka and evacuations from there are difficult,” he said, adding that they had prepared a “reserve logistics artery” in advance.

Since last year, Avdiivka has become a significant battleground after Russian forces nearly encircled it and made attempts to enter it.

The commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s military, Oleksandr Syrskii, described the situation as “extremely difficult” after a visit to soldiers around the town.

Meanwhile, at least six people, including a child, were killed and 18 wounded in a Ukrainian missile attack on the Russian city of Belgorod, Russian officials said.

Roman Starovoit, governor of the neighbouring Kursk region, called the attack “a new crime of the Ukrainian Nazis” and said a shopping mall, an outdoor sports facility and residential areas were hit.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, said on social media that five children were among the wounded.

There was no immediate comment from Ukraine regarding the reported attack.

A view shows a shopping centre hit by a missile strike
A shopping centre is damaged after what local authorities call a Ukrainian missile attack in Belgorod, Russia, on February 15, 2024 [Reuters]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday to sign a security agreement at Elysee Palace, the French presidency said.

“As Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine will soon enter its third year, this visit will be an opportunity for the President of the Republic to reaffirm France’s determination to continue to provide, in the long term and with all of its partners, unwavering support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,” Macron’s office said on Thursday.

His office said details would be announced during a press conference.

The accord is to outline the framework for long-term humanitarian and financial aid, support for reconstruction and military assistance.

According to two diplomats aware of the talks, France is expected to announce a 200-million-euro ($214.7m) fund for civilian projects to be carried out by French companies.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies