Zelenskyy to Visit Washington as Congress Debates More Ukraine Aid – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is slated to visit Washington in the coming week while Congress deliberates an additional $21 billion in assistance for Ukraine to bolster its efforts against Russia. There is growing division among U.S. lawmakers regarding the provision of further aid to Ukraine amidst its ongoing struggle against the Russian invasion.
President Joe Biden is requesting $13 billion for military assistance and $8 billion for humanitarian aid. However, some Republican legislators are opposing the idea of sending additional aid to Ukraine. Following the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, Zelenskyy is anticipated to hold a meeting with President Biden at the White House.
Despite the slower-than-expected progress of Ukraine’s counteroffensive against the Russian invasion, Zelenskyy celebrated a notable achievement on Thursday, highlighting Ukraine’s destruction of a Russian air defense system on the annexed Crimean Peninsula. “A special mention should be made to the entire personnel of the Security Service of Ukraine as well as our naval forces,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video message.
“The invaders’ air defense system was destroyed. Very significant, well done!” Earlier in the day, the United States imposed sanctions on over 150 businesses and individuals spanning Russia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Georgia. These measures were enacted to combat efforts to circumvent trade restrictions aimed at cutting off financial support for Russia’s ongoing 19-month-long war against Ukraine.
This latest sanctions package ranks among the most substantial actions taken by the U.S. State Department and the Treasury. Its primary focus is on entities involved in supplying Western technology to Moscow to bolster its war efforts, with a particular emphasis on businesses and individuals in Turkey, a member of the Western military alliance supporting Ukraine.
These sanctions, which freeze any assets held by the affected entities in the United States, also intend to impede the growth of Russia’s energy sector, a key source of funding for the war. This includes projects related to Arctic natural gas, mining, and factories engaged in the production and repair of Russian weaponry.
Furthermore, the sanctions target numerous Turkish and Russian companies identified by the State Department as aiding Moscow in procuring U.S. and European electronic components like computer chips and processors, which have applications in both civilian and military equipment. The State Department is also singling out Turkish firms that have provided ship repair services to an entity linked to Russia’s Defense Ministry.
James O’Brien, representing the State Department’s sanctions coordination office, noted that before the conflict, Russia obtained up to 90% of its electronics from Group of 7 wealthy democracies. However, due to sanctions, this figure has dropped significantly, approaching 30%. In the recent overnight attacks, Ukraine’s military reported successfully intercepting and downing 17 out of the 22 drones deployed by Russia to target various regions of Ukraine.
These attacks from Russia were aimed at the Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia, Sumy, and Dnipropetrovsk regions, as confirmed by the Ukrainian military. Serhiy Lysak, the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, revealed that one of the three downed drones in his area caused damage to buildings and vehicles and even ignited a grass fire. Despite the attacks, Lysak mentioned that there were no reported casualties resulting from Russian shelling in the region.
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On the Russian side, the Defense Ministry reported that its air defenses successfully intercepted multiple Ukrainian drones over the Bryansk region in western Russia early Thursday. Additionally, Russia claimed to have repelled an attack on a patrol ship in the Black Sea, with Russian forces neutralizing five unmanned boats.
In Crimea, controlled by Russia, their Defense Ministry stated via Telegram that they had destroyed 11 Ukrainian drones. This followed a recent incident where a Ukrainian missile struck a strategically significant shipyard in Crimea, causing injuries to 24 individuals and damaging two ships undergoing repairs.