Putin tells Lukashenko he sees ‘positive changes’ in Russia-Ukraine talks

Senate approves spending bill with billions for Iron Dome, Ukraine

A $13.6 billion emergency military and humanitarian aid package for beleaguered Ukraine and its European allies, plus money to resupply Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile batteries, easily won Congress’s final approval on Thursday, halting a government-wide spending bill. five months late but loaded with political rewards for both parties.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion killing thousands and forcing more than 2 million others to flee, the Senate approved the $1.5 trillion package legislation by a bipartisan margin of 68 to 31.

The bill includes $1 billion in additional funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system that Jerusalem has sought for months but watched from afar as it was held hostage to partisan slander.

Democrats and Republicans have battled this election year against rising inflation, energy policy and continued pandemic restrictions, but rallied around sending aid to Ukraine, whose stubborn resilience against brute force has been an inspiration to many voters.

“We promised the people of Ukraine that they would not go into their fight against Putin alone,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said just before the vote. “And once we pass that funding in a short time, we will deliver on that promise.”

US President Joe Biden is expected to sign it on Friday to prevent a government shutdown.

Jerusalem was seeking additional funding for the Iron Dome beyond the $500 million it already receives each year for missile defense after being forced to use significant amounts of interceptor missiles and batteries in the war of Gaza last May. Israel says Hamas fired more than 4,300 rockets at Israeli towns over an 11-day period.

Gaza rockets, right, are seen in the night sky fired at Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on May 14, 2021, as Iron Dome interceptor missiles, left, loom up to meet them. (Anas Baba/AFP)

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