Peace efforts falter while US sends more military aid to Ukraine

A Ukrainian soldier in a trench close to the Russian positions near Kremenna in the Luhansk region, Ukraine, May 9, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)

While China and Brazil have offered to mediate a cease-fire in the Russia-Ukraine military conflict, the flow of Western arms to Ukraine continued on Tuesday.

The United States announced a new $1.2 billion military aid package for Ukraine that will include air defense systems, ammunition and funds for training, the Pentagon said.

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, expressed skepticism Tuesday over efforts to halt the conflict, which started in February 2022.

"Peace negotiations are not possible at this time," Guterres told Spain's El País newspaper in an interview, adding that the efforts were "doomed to fail".

"I already said that peace negotiations at this time are not going to happen. I hope in the future, yes. There was talk of a Russian offensive in the winter and a Ukrainian one in the spring. It is evident that the parties are fully involved into the war," Guterres said.

So far in fiscal 2023, the US Department of Defense has provided $5 billion in military aid to Ukraine under the USAI in four separate tranches

China unveiled a 12-point peace road map earlier this year to halt the hostilities. The initiative got a positive response in Moscow, with Russia's top leadership signaling a willingness to discuss it.

However, the proposal was rejected by Kyiv and its Western allies, who accused Beijing of siding with Russia and therefore having no standing in peace talks.

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In late April, Brazilian President Lula da Silva said: "There is no use now in saying who is right, who is wrong. What we have to do now is stop the war."

Meanwhile, in Moscow on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Western "arrogance" is driving a "real war" against Russia, and the West's "superiority ideology is, by definition, repulsive, deadly, and criminal".

Putin, who made the comments Tuesday during a Victory Day parade in Moscow's Red Square, said Western leaders "still talk about their exclusivity, put people against each other and divide society, provoke bloody conflicts and coups, sow hatred, Russophobia, aggressive nationalism, destroy those family, traditional values that make humans human".

Victory Day marks the anniversary of Germany's unconditional surrender in World War II on the night of May 8, 1945.

The Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds from Washington will be used to purchase the weapons, allowing US President Joe Biden's administration to buy arms from industry instead of pulling them from US stocks. Delivery of the weapons and systems depends on their availability and production timeline.

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The Pentagon said it will fund air-defense munitions and drones for air defense and provide equipment to help modify Western air-defense launchers, missiles and radars so they can be used with Ukraine's systems. It will also buy artillery rounds, howitzer ammunition, satellite imagery assistance and funding for ongoing maintenance and spare parts for a variety of systems.

US officials said the weapons include HAWK air-defense systems. They spoke on condition of anonymity because that has not yet been formally announced.

In this photo taken on May 4, 2023, A Su-25 ground attack jet of the Ukrainian air force is seen on a mission over Donetsk region, Ukraine. (PHOTO / AP)

So far in fiscal 2023, the US Department of Defense has provided $5 billion in military aid to Ukraine under the USAI in four separate tranches. In fiscal 2022, the US spent $6.3 billion worth in USAI funds for Ukraine's defense.

The US has also rushed more than $35 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine using presidential drawdown authority, which authorizes the president to transfer articles and services from US stocks without congressional approval during an emergency.

Tuesday's military aid announcement came as Congress and the White House debated ways to avoid a default on the nation's $31.4 trillion debt, with many Republicans demanding sharp cuts in domestic spending in exchange for increasing the debt ceiling.

Members of both parties, however, maintain that they support continued aid for Ukraine including top Republicans House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate.

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Including Tuesday's package, the US has provided Ukraine nearly $37 billion in military aid since the start of the conflict. Ukraine says it is preparing to launch a spring offensive against Russian forces, with air defense a challenge for Kyiv.

The announcement of the latest aid package sparked criticism on social media, with some questioning the continued aid to Ukraine while Title 42, a pandemic-era restriction on migration to the US, is set to expire Thursday.

"Today the US approved another $1 Billion plus in aid to a foreign nation thousands of miles away to help secure their border," tweeted "Alejandro Miguelsky". "In 2 days the US will begin to lose whatever border we still have allowing Millions to pour in."

Eddie Tarazona, an Army veteran, wrote on Twitter: "The US is set to announce a $1.2b aid package to @Ukraine … Not for our Southern Border, not for our Veterans and Troops, not for our decaying infrastructure but for a proxy war we're fighting against @Russia. This must end."

Twitter user "Working Dawg" in South Carolina, in a message to Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, wrote: "@LindseyGrahamSC STOP sending my hard earned money to Ukraine's winless war. Protect OUR border."

Agencies contributed to this story.