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Senate approves new $40B aid package for Ukraine

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Senate approves new $40B aid package for Ukraine
Ukrainian soldiers prepare to lift a destroyed Ukrainian 2S7 Pion (Peony), tank lying in a field from Russian shelling on Sunday in Vilhivka, Ukraine. The new U.S. aid package would include funding for more military equipment. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

May 19 (UPI) -- The Senate on Thursday approved a package worth tens of billions of dollars in additional aid and equipment to Ukraine to fend off Russian advances.

Senators voted 86-11, with all but 11 Republicans siding with Democrats in the vote. President Joe Biden has promised to sign the bill once it reaches his desk.

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"Together with the contributions of our allies and partners, we will keep security, economic, food, and humanitarian assistance flowing to Ukraine, across the region, and around the world, and further strengthen Ukraine -- both on the battlefield and at the negotiating table," he said in a statement released after the vote.

Biden asked for $33 billion in new aid for Ukraine earlier this month and the House increased the proposal to a $40 million package after adding more defensive and humanitarian funding.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the Senate for passing the bill, stating it will contribute to "the restoration of peace and security in Ukraine, Europe and the world."

"We look forward to the signing of the law by" Biden," he tweeted.

During his nightly address, Zelensky described its passing was "a manifestation of strong leadership and a necessary contribution to our common defense of freedom."

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The United States has given billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24. That aid, however, has just about run out.

In his Thursday statement, Biden announced an additional $100 million package of security assistance to provide more artillery, radars and other equipment to Ukraine.

Ukrainian soldiers lift a destroyed tank east of Kharkiv in Vilhivka, Ukraine, on Sunday. The new U.S. aid package includes billions for defensive and humanitarian purposes and would send more military equipment to fend off Russian forces. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI

"The need is clear for this Congress to act decisively and to act now to reaffirm our unwavering support for the Ukrainian people in protecting their lives and their country, and to stem this global crisis," Senate appropriations committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said in a statement earlier this week.

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"The United States stands against the atrocities inflicted upon the free people of Ukraine, an independent country with a democratically elected government."

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., often a vocal dissenter on many issues, objected to the bill last week based mainly on the amount of aid and oversight for where the money would go.

Paul called for an inspector general to monitor the spending laid out in the bill -- a prospect that was rejected by Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York and other senators.

Rand was among the 11 Republicans who voted against the funding Thursday.

"If Congress really believed giving Ukraine $40B was in our national interest, they could easily pay for it by taxing every income taxpayer $500. My guess is they choose to borrow the $ bc Americans might just decide they need the $500 more to pay for gas," he tweeted earlier in the day.

About a fifth of the money in the bill would to go restocking U.S. military equipment sent to Ukraine. Some senators raised concerns about giving Ukraine -- a former Soviet republic located right next to Russia -- more weapons like stinger and Javelin missiles.

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Ukrainians return to towns around Kharkiv after Russian retreat

A local woman walks down a dirt road on Monday as life tries to return to normal after Russian shelling hit the small town of Biskvitne, Ukraine, east of Kharkiv. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

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