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Ukraine live briefing: Biden presses for Ukraine aid after Congress leaves it out of last-minute funding bill

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Cars drive past the U.S. Capitol during a vote on a resolution to fund the government on Sept. 30. The Senate passed a short-term, bipartisan funding bill stripped of proposed aid to Ukraine. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

A U.S. funding bill that averted a government shutdown this weekend did not include anticipated aid to Ukraine.

President Biden welcomed the prevention of a shutdown but lamented that Congress did not commit to new funding for Kyiv. Ukrainian officials said they were confident that they still had U.S. support.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects around the globe.

Biden criticized the bill’s omission of financial aid for Ukraine: “We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” he said, according to a White House statement. “I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.”

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed confidence in U.S. aid. There has been no change in U.S. support, Andriy Yermak said Sunday on Telegram, and Ukrainian leaders discuss the support often with Democratic and Republican officials. Ukraine’s envoy to Washington also expressed optimism that funding guarantees for Kyiv would be secured. There is time, there are resources, and there is bipartisan support for Ukraine in Washington, Ambassador Oksana Markarova said in a Facebook post.

Aid for Ukraine had been a key issue as the United States headed toward a potential government shutdown. House Republicans, with late help from Democrats, pushed through a short-term bill to fund the government and avert a shutdown. Though the Senate ultimately approved the bill as well, the vote was at first delayed by Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), who expressed concern over the lack of additional aid to Ukraine.

A bipartisan group of Senate leaders pledged to work in coming weeks on legislation that further funds Ukraine’s war effort. The group, led by Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said in a statement Saturday that it supports “Ukraine’s efforts to defend its sovereignty against [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s brazen aggression” and that it will continue “to provide critical and sustained security and economic support for Ukraine.”

Slovakia’s parliamentary election has the potential to complicate the Western response to Ukraine. Nearly complete results showed that Robert Fico, a populist former prime minister whose campaign has been laced with pro-Russian and anti-American discourse, defeated his progressive rival. Fico said Sunday that his party would do “everything we can” to promote immediate Ukraine-Russia peace talks. Zelensky has said he would allow peace talks only once Russian troops have left Ukraine; the Kremlin has said it must hold on to the five areas it has illegally annexed since 2014.

Drones were spotted above Russian regions overnight into Sunday morning, local authorities said. Flights into Sochi International Airport were temporarily redirected as a result, the Black Sea resort city’s mayor, Alexei Kopaigorodsky, said early Sunday — adding in a Telegram post that a drone was shot down. Farther north, the governor of Smolensk region, bordering Belarus, said three drones were suppressed.

The Romanian army’s radar system detected “a possible unauthorized” breach of the country’s airspace late last week, the Defense Ministry said. It added that the radar detected the possible breach after registering “groups of drones heading toward Ukrainian territory” near the border, and as Russia conducted “a new series of attacks on some targets in Ukraine.”

Ukrainian officials accused Russia of attacking civilian infrastructure overnight. In Ukraine’s central Cherkasy region, regional governor Ihor Taburets said a drone attack ignited a fire in a grain warehouse in the city of Uman and injured one person. In the Dnipropetrovsk region, a drone targeted civilian infrastructure in the city of Kryvyi Rih, and a power line and gas pipeline were shelled by artillery in Nikopol, local military administrator Serhiy Lysak said.

A 63-year-old resident died riding a bicycle in Vovchansk, in the Kharkiv region, after Russian forces shelled the city center, according to the local prosecutor’s office. In the city of Kharkiv, three missiles hit civilian infrastructure, starting a fire, regional administration head Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram on Sunday. Ukrainian state media also reported the sound of explosions over Zaporizhzhia.

A new round of Russian military conscription was slated to start Sunday, and it is expected to call up about 130,000 people, the country’s Defense Ministry said. It claimed that the conscription was not connected to the war in Ukraine. All men in Russia are required to serve in the military or perform equivalent training in higher education for at least one year between the ages of 18 and 27.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said there were no plans to deploy British forces to Ukraine, after Defense Secretary Grant Shapps suggested the country could send military trainers there. In an interview with Sky News Sunday, Sunak said “there are no British soldiers that will be sent to fight in the current conflict.” Earlier this weekend, Shapps told the Telegraph that he was considering allowing trainers “into Ukraine” rather than relegating them to NATO bases outside the country. Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, said on X that such troops would be “ruthlessly eliminated” and considered representatives of NATO.

The United States is the biggest financial supporter of Kyiv’s fight against Russia: Washington has committed more than $60 billion in aid to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s invasion in February 2022, including more than $43 billion in military aid, Ruby Mellen and Artur Galocha report in a visual look at U.S. spending during the war.

“These are off-the-charts numbers,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He likened the figures to U.S. commitments to European countries at the end of World War II. The Marshall Plan, when adjusted for inflation, came to about $150 billion over three years.

More than a year and a half into the conflict, U.S. public support for Ukraine funding is wavering, particularly among Republicans. Lately, some hard-right GOP members of the House have opposed sending more aid to Ukraine and made it a central issue in negotiations over a U.S. government spending bill.

David Stern, Kostiantyn Khudov, Natalia Abbakumova, Jeff Stein, John Hudson, Ellen Francis, Serhiy Morgunov, Justine McDaniel, Jacob Bogage and Mariana Alfaro contributed to this report.

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