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US Senate to vote on Ukraine aid, potential TikTok ban

Ukraine probes doctors for helping men dodge military draft
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The US Senate could vote Tuesday on a major aid package for Ukraine, in legislation that also includes assistance for Israel and Taiwan and sets the stage to ban social media app TikTok.

Its passage is all but certain after the House of Representatives — following months of wrangling — approved the much awaited assistance with broad bipartisan support.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, whose party narrowly controls the chamber, said Saturday “the finish line is now in sight” for the assistance package, and that an agreement had been “locked in” for a vote on Tuesday.

“The task before us is urgent. It is once again the Senate’s turn to make history,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said.

Debate is set to start at 1:00 pm (1700 GMT) and the legislation could be passed by the end of the day.

The final package outlines a whopping $95 billion in total military assistance to US allies, including money for Israel and Taiwan alongside the $61 billion earmarked for Ukraine. US President Joe Biden is expected to sign it.

The text also contains a measure to ban TikTok if it doesn’t soon cut ties with its Chinese parent company ByteDance.

The popular app has come under scrutiny from lawmakers accusing it of being under Chinese government influence, while supporters have decried a ban as a free speech infringement.

The Senate vote should go more smoothly, without having to deal with the complicated negotiations and disagreements that plagued the Republican-controlled House.

Biden promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call Monday that Kyiv could expect the assistance to arrive “quickly,” as they struggle forward against Russia’s invasion.

The Ukrainian military is facing a severe shortage of weapons and new recruits as Moscow exerts constant pressure from the east.

And circumstances are expected to worsen on the frontlines in the coming weeks, with Ukrainian intelligence head Kyrylo Budanov predicting a “rather difficult situation” beginning mid-May.

– Security investment –

Zelensky, after his conversation with Biden, said he is counting on the speedy delivery of a “powerful” aid shipment to strengthen Ukraine’s air defense as well as “long-range and artillery capabilities.”

The debate over Ukraine aid has highlighted wide divisions between Democrats and Republicans in Congress — but it has also revealed deep fissures within the conservative movement ahead of November’s presidential match-up between Biden and Donald Trump.

Many lawmakers waved Ukrainian flags in the US House chamber after the vote Saturday — but were met with boos from Trump-allied Republicans.

Biden and the Democrats frame Ukraine aid as an investment in US security against Russian aggression.

But Republicans have been hesitant, wary of sending money overseas, and House Speaker Mike Johnson has spent much of his six-month tenure blocking a vote on economic and military aid for Ukraine.

He told reporters how he finally came around: “To put it bluntly, I would rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys. My son is going to begin in the Naval Academy this fall.”

In addition to money for Ukraine, Tuesday’s vote will also decide on $13 billion for Israel’s war with Hamas, more than $9 billion for humanitarian assistance in Gaza and elsewhere and $8 billion in military support for Taiwan as it faces down China.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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