US House approves long-awaited $61 billion Ukraine aid package

Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives on Saturday quickly passed legislation to provide military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, and to ban TikTok if it fails to divest from its Chinese parent company.

The bills, passed in a rare Saturday session, were approved by overwhelming bipartisan votes, though they leave the future of House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican, in doubt as he seeks to fend off angry far-right detractors.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the long-delayed aid package, saying the military and economic assistance would "save thousands and thousands of lives".

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov meanwhile said that the passage of the bill would "further ruin" Ukraine and result in more deaths in the war.

Peskov also told the state Tass news agency that a provision in the legislation allowing the US administration to confiscate seized Russian assets and transfer them to Ukraine for reconstruction would tarnish the image of the US. Russia, he said, would respond with measures in its own interests.

In addition, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Telegram that "the allocation of US military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan will exacerbate global crises" and called the aid package destined for Kyiv a "direct support for terrorist activities".

The money will essentially be used to reinforce Israel's Iron Dome air defences.

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