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Ukraine's prime minister on how U.S. aid could make a difference on the frontlines

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

As Congress votes on whether to send more aid to Ukraine, that country's prime minister is here in the U.S., making the case for why it matters. Denys Schmale has been traveling the country, meeting with members of Congress and officials in the Biden administration. He says the $60 billion aid package is critical to Ukraine's war effort. He spoke with NPR's Andrew Limbong and spelled out how that money would make a difference on the frontlines.

PRIME MINISTER DENYS SCHMALE: We have lack of ammunition for artillery. We have lack of middle- and long-range equipment. So this support is crucial for us. We continue deterring Russians on the frontline. We continue fighting for our lives, our homes, our families. But in any way, we need your support to protect democracy, to protect our mutual values and to protect the global security order which exists for the last 80 years. So this is very important support for Ukraine. This is not donation. This is not charity. This is investment into global security order.

ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said recently that without aid, Ukraine doesn't have a chance of winning. And I'm curious if you can tell me how so.

SCHMALE: I visited the frontline four weeks ago and ask guys...

LIMBONG: Yeah.

SCHMALE: ...How are them. And they have one artillery shell per day per 20 kilometers of the frontline. So Russians have dozens or even hundreds of artillery shells per day on the same line of the front. So Russians are learning the lessons, and they improve their weaponry. They make huge progress during this war. So we need weapon, and we will make our job - we will make everything - not just deter them but push them out of our territory. I should mention that we liberated 50% of occupied territories during these two years of full-scale war. We liberated Black Sea. So these examples demonstrate that if we have support of United States, when we have support of our partners, we may push Russians out of our land.

LIMBONG: Yeah. European countries and the European Union have actually provided more aid than the United States. Is there something special about help from the U.S. specifically? Like, can't you do this with just Europeans?

SCHMALE: I should say that we have a huge amount of support from the United States. We appreciate this so much, and we are deeply grateful for this. Europe support us, too, in sense of financial support and military support. Now we have some initiatives, some coalitions - F16 coalition, IT coalition, Czech initiative, also named artillery coalition to supply 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine. This all we need yesterday - not today, not tomorrow but yesterday. But I should say that support from United States is unique in some cases - for example, Patriots. This is the best ever air defense equipment, absolutely the best. It destroy all kinds of Russian missiles, even hypersonic, which no one equipment can destroy. So Patriots, on practice, have proved that it's possible and it works perfectly.

KELLY: That was Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Schmale speaking with my colleague Andrew Limbong. And you can hear more of their conversation on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED this Saturday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.