Russia warns of 'further ruin' as US House approves $61bn aid package for Ukraine

Washington's long-delayed package will help provide much-needed missile and ammunitions, without which the US was warned Ukraine could lose the war

The US House of Representatives has approved a $61bn (£49bn) aid package to support the war in Ukraine as the Kremlin claimed the passage of the bill would "further ruin" their neighbour and cause more deaths.

It could prove a lifeline for Ukraine's military which is running low on munitions in its fight against the Russian invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted a statement on X saying he was "grateful" to the US House of Representatives for "the decision that keeps history on the right track".

He added: "Democracy and freedom will always have global significance and will never fail as long as America helps to protect it.

"The vital U.S. aid bill passed today by the House will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger."

The vote had been long-delayed by some Republicans who are deeply split over sending money overseas.

The House Speaker, Republican Mike Johnson put his job on the line and relied on Democratic support to set up a series of votes on three aid packages.

“The only thing that has kept terrorists and tyrants at bay is the perception of a strong America, that we would stand strong,” said Mr Johnson.

“And we will. I think that Congress is going to show that. This is a very important message that we are going to send the world."

As well as an aid bill for Ukraine there will also be support for Israel and the Indo-Pacific, totalling $95bn (£74bn).

Passage through the House clears away the biggest hurdle to President Joe Biden's funding request, first made in October as Ukraine's military supplies began to run low.

The package will go to the Senate, where passage in the coming days is nearly assured. President Biden has promised to sign it immediately.

Congress has seen a stream of world leaders visit in recent months, from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, all asking lawmakers to approve the aid.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, a Republican, put his job on the line to set up the aid votes. Credit: AP

At stake has also been one of Biden's top foreign policy priorities - halting Russian President Vladimir Putin's advance in Europe.

After engaging in talks with Mr Johnson, the president quickly endorsed his plan this week, paving the way for Democrats to give their rare support to clear the procedural hurdles needed for a final vote.

“We have a responsibility, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans to defend democracy wherever it is at risk,” the House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries said during the debate.

Gregory Meeks, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee described the vote as an "historic moment”.

He said: “Sometimes when you are living history, as we are today, you don't understand the significance of the actions of the votes that we make on this House floor, of the effect that it will have down the road."

While aid for Ukraine will likely win a majority in both parties, a significant number of Democrats are expected to vote against the bill aiding Israel as they demand an end to the bombardment of Gaza.

A group of Republicans known as the House Freedom Caucus has derided the legislation as the “America Last” foreign wars package and urged lawmakers to defy Republican leadership and oppose it.

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