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Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says U.S. aid is crucial for global security

Ukrainian prime minister says U.S. aid is crucial to mutual security
Ukrainian prime minister says U.S. aid is crucial to mutual security 04:01

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Two years into the war between Ukraine and Russia, funding Ukraine's fight has become a fight of its own in a divided Congress.

This week, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal visited Chicago – home to a large Ukrainian population and many refugees. He joined Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and the governor's sister, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine's Economic Recovery Penny Pritzker, for a roundtable with Chicago area business leaders.

During his quick stop, Shmyhal also made time for an exclusive interview – with CBS 2.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal talks with CBS 2's Brad Edwards CBS 2

"It was no question for me to visit such a great city of Chicago. We have met Chicago businesses, and it was very good conversation. Many of them are in Ukraine. Some of them would like to participate in Ukrainian recovery," said Shmyhal. "It will be biggest project ever. The World Bank estimation $486 billion we will need to recover Ukraine."

U.S. House Republican leadership on Wednesday unveiled the legislative text for a bill that would provide $60.8 billion to bolster Ukraine – alongside another bill to support Israel while addressing humanitarian needs, and a third to counter China in the Indo-Pacific.

Johnson said he would give lawmakers 72 hours to review the legislation, teeing up a vote as soon as Saturday. President Joe Biden said he would sign it into law, calling on the House to pass it this week and the Senate to quickly follow. Both chambers are scheduled to be in recess next week. 

Shmyhal said U.S. aid is of prime importance.

"U.S. aid is crucial, and crucially important for Ukraine. The United States is our Big Partner; is our ally," said Shmyhal. "This support is not about Ukraine. It's not about charity. It's about global security. It's about our mutual security."

Shmyhal said since the war began, many people have been lost in Ukraine – not only to death but also to people's need to flee for their own safety.

"A very important task for us is to bring back all of these people to Ukraine after the war is finished," he said.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal CBS 2

While Shmyhal did not mention Russian President Vladimir Putin by name when he talked about war, CBS 2 did ask him to talk about the Russian leader.

"For me, it's clear. This is a brutal, illegal, unprovoked aggression of Russia against Ukraine, and Putin is a dictator, and he is an aggressor - and should be punished," he said. "Russia is the aggressor, Ukraine is the victim, and we protect our lives, our families, and we protect our mutual values."

Ukraine was also known as the world's breadbasket – producing wheat, corn, and sunflower products for export around the world, including many developing countries. The fertility of the earth in Ukraine is attributed to chernozem – the world's richest soil, which contains a large quantity of organic matter made from decomposed plants - called humus.

Much of the chernozem has now been destroyed, and unexploded land mines lie where that grain once fed the world.

"As of today, 156,000 square kilometers are under mining pollution," Shmyhal said. "This is like a territory of Great Britain, and this all needs to be de-mined."

Shmyhal explained what Ukraine needs – particularly from America.

"We need just weaponry, and we need ammunition. When I ask our soldiers on the front lines, and they told me that we have a deficit of artillery shells. This ratio is one to 10 - so we use one artillery and Russians are using 10 artillery shells. So you can't win the war if you have one artillery shell, and your enemy have 10."

He said the artillery shells are needed "so we will liberate our land, we will win this war, and be great partners for the next 100 years."

Although U.S. funding has been in question, NATO has recently announced plans to potentially fund Ukraine's fight by more than $100 billion over five years.

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