Ukraine premier in Tokyo says his country needs missiles, but expects new US aid to come through

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Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday that his country needs long-range missiles and other ammunition to end Russia’s invasion, and said he expects a US aid package that’s stalled in Congress to come through, speaking at a news conference the day after he attended a conference in Tokyo on reconstructing Ukraine.

Ukraine has modern equipment, training soldiers and fighting at NATO standards and “European countries and the United States are supporting us, absolutely,” Shmyhal said. But, he said, the country needs more long-range missiles for air defense against Russia on the frontline, Shmyhal said.

“Unfortunately, now they prevail in the air and unfortunately this leads to some consequences from the frontline, but I should say that we have no refuses from our partners to supply military equipment to Ukraine,” he said. In many Western countries, military support for Ukraine is facing pushback over growing costs as the war approaches the two-year mark.

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The United States has provided Ukraine with about $111 billion, largely in weapons but also equipment and humanitarian assistance, and a new aid package of $95 billion is stalled in Congress after passing the Senate. When Ukraine begins fielding F-16 fighter jets later this year, “we will balance the situation on the battlefield and it will be much easier for us,” he said.

But currently, with the ongoing shortage of long-range artillery and missile equipment, “if it will be stopped, if it will be delayed, this is the main danger for us on the battlefield.” The US National Guard has it is continuing to train Ukrainian pilots on the jets despite the end of funding for other military aid efforts.

Japan hopes to build momentum for global support for Ukraine as the war drags on and attention has been diverted to the conflict in Gaza. Japan has focused on reconstruction aid, in part due to constitutional restraints on providing lethal weapons. The previous day, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vowed a long-term commitment to Ukraine’s reconstruction at the Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Growth and Reconstruction.

About 300 people and 130 companies from the two countries attended the conference, and more than 50 deals were signed, including a Japanese pledge of 15.8 billion yen ($105 million) in new aid for Ukraine to fund de-mining and other urgently needed reconstruction projects in the energy and transportation sectors, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry. Shmyhal said Ukraine understands Japan’s restrictions on weapons export policy and welcomed Japan’s commitment.

Wrapping up his three-day visit amid tight security, Shmyhal was to visit a Nissan Motor Co factory near Tokyo before leaving Japan later Tuesday.