Friday, 22 September 2023 04:48

What to know after Day 575 of Russia-Ukraine war

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Kiev has ‘nothing to show’ for all the money spent – US senator

The US should not endlessly pour money into Ukraine, especially since Kiev has “nothing to show for it,” Senator Josh Hawley has said, following President Joe Biden’s request for additional funds. 

“If there’s some path to victory in Ukraine, I didn’t hear it today. And I also heard that there’s going to be no end to the funding requests,” Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, told reporters following a closed-door Senate briefing on the situation in Ukraine on Wednesday. “What we were basically told is ‘Buckle up and get out your checkbook.’”

“It’s American people’s money. They’ve spent $115 billion, and, so far, they have basically nothing to show for it,” the senator said, arguing that Germany and other European allies should “step up to the plate” in terms of aiding Kiev in its conflict with Russia.

Take out Ukraine, insert Iraq or Afghanistan, and you would get exactly what George W. Bush said for years – and other people after him – about why we have to stay indefinitely in those countries and keep spending money indefinitely, with no oversight… It’s the same recycled argument.

Speaking to Fox News on Thursday, Hawley reiterated his position that the US “shouldn’t be spending a dime more on Ukraine,” and called for an audit of the fund already sent to Kiev. 

Biden, who met with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in the White House on Thursday, has been asking Congress to provide an additional $24 billion in aid. “I’m counting on the good judgment of the United States Congress,” Biden said. 

White House spokesman John Kirby previously urged legislators not to block the funding, warning that it was “really a critical time” to help Kiev.

US officials vowed to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes.” However, Kiev’s much-anticipated counteroffensive launched in early June has failed to yield any significant victories, as Ukrainian troops struggle to break through fortified Russian positions and thick minefields. The events on the ground prompted NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg to advise Ukraine’s supporters to brace for a prolonged conflict.

** US government and media lying about Ukrainian counteroffensive – Seymour Hersh

US intelligence analysts believe that Ukraine has given up on its counteroffensive against Russia and the only thing prolonging the conflict is the unwillingness of Washington and Kiev to acknowledge its failure, a source has told investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.

Writing on Substack on Thursday, the veteran reporter cited an unnamed source, who “spent the early years of his career working against Soviet aggression and spying” as rejecting the Ukrainian narrative about slow but steady progress in its counteroffensive.

“‘It’s all lies,’” the source said, according to Hersh. “‘The war is over. Russia has won. There is no Ukrainian offensive anymore, but the White House and the American media have to keep the lie going.’”

This sentiment is shared by many figures in the US intelligence community, and the CIA in particular has been skeptical of Kiev’s claims of a continued push forward, unlike the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), he explained.

Trent Maul, the director of analysis for the DIA, touted Ukraine’s success to The Economist earlier this month and claimed Kiev’s forces had a “realistic”chance to break through Russian defense lines this year. The British outlet contrasted the assessment with that of an unnamed senior US intelligence official, who said the battlefield “could look broadly similar” in five years.

The source cited by Hersh blasted the leadership in both Moscow and Washington for acting “stupid” during the crisis. Russian President Vladimir Putin got “provoked [into] violating the UN charter” with a poorly-prepared military campaign, he argued. US President Joe Biden retaliated with a proxy war and has had to rely on the vilification of Putin by the media “in order to justify our mistake.”

“The truth is if the Ukrainian army is ordered to continue the offensive, the army would mutiny. The soldiers aren’t willing to die any more, but this doesn’t fit the B.S. that is being authored by the Biden White House,” the source concluded.

Moscow has denied the US claim that the operation against Ukraine was an act of “unprovoked aggression,” insisting that the people of Donbass had the right of self-determination under the UN Charter and acted accordingly when they broke away from Ukraine after the 2014 armed coup in Kiev.

The Russian government has maintained that it acted lawfully when it recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Luganks People’s Republics in February 2022. Days later, after Kiev refused to stop attacks on Donbass and pull out its troops, Moscow launched its offensive.



Russian attack on Ukrainian town west of Donetsk injures 13 - Official

A Russian attack on a town west of Donetsk near Ukraine's eastern front has injured 13 people, including one pulled out from under rubble, an official from the area was quoted as saying early on Friday.

There were two strikes on the town, sparking a fire, according to Roman Padun, administrative head of the town of Kurakhove, speaking to public broadcaster Suspilne. He gave no details on what weapons had been used.

Photos posted on social media showed several buildings ablaze. Reuters was unable to independently verify the reports.

Kurakhove is near Maryinka, a town near the front line still held by Ukraine but under Russian attack for many months.

In the southern region of Kherson, governor Oleksandr Prokudin, in a report on Telegram, said Russian forces had shelled the town of Zelenivka and killed a woman resident, who was pulled from underneath the rubble of her home.

Ukraine's southern group of forces, also reporting on Telegram, said a Russian missile had struck recreation facilities southwest of the Black Sea port of Odesa. No casualties were reported.

** In Washington, Zelenskiy courts Congress, Biden on military aid

U.S. President Joe Biden assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday that strong U.S. support for his war to repel Russian invaders will be maintained despite opposition from some Republican lawmakers to sending billions more in aid.

Biden and Zelenskiy held a war council in the White House East Room as part of a blizzard of appearances the Ukraine leader made looking to bolster U.S. support for a war that began in February 2022 and has no end in sight.

"Mr. President, we're with you, we're staying with you," Biden told Zelenskiy before reaching across the table and shaking his hand after two hours of talks.

Zelenskiy thanked Biden for a new $325 million military aid package of weaponry and air defenses, saying "it has exactly what our soldiers need now."

He said he and Biden agreed on specific steps to expand the export of grain from Ukraine in the face of a Russian blockade and tensions with neighbor Poland. He did not detail the steps.

Biden's request for $24 billion in more Ukraine funding to help pay for Ukraine's defense and humanitarian aid through the end of the year is bottled up in a budget fight pushed by Republican hardliners in the House of Representatives.

Asked how to overcome the opposition, Biden said the only way was approval by the U.S. Congress.

“I’m counting on the good judgment of the United States Congress. There’s no alternative," he said.

Comments from Republican Senator Rand Paul, a frequent critic of foreign aid, were emblematic of the opposition. He told Fox Business News that Ukraine is a "corrupt regime" and that the war has no end in sight.

Biden said the first American Abrams tanks will be delivered to Ukraine next week.

"Just as we're committed to helping Ukraine defend itself now, we're also committed to helping them recover and rebuild in the future, including supporting reforms that will combat corruption," Biden said.


Biden said Washington would also send Ukraine a second Raytheon-built Hawk air defense battery and related equipment. A U.S. official said the equipment would arrive in Ukraine soon.

After seeking international support at the United Nations on Wednesday, Zelenskiy came to Washington on a blitz across town that included meetings with military leaders at the Pentagon, a visit to the U.S. Capitol and an address in the evening at the National Archives museum.

In announcing a new $325 million military aid package for Ukraine, Biden lauded the bravery of the Ukrainian people when he and Zelenskiy met earlier in the Oval Office.

"Together with our partners and allies, the American people are determined to see to it that (we do) all we can to ensure that the world stands with you," Biden said in comments at the start of their meeting.

Zelenskiy said Ukraine greatly appreciates U.S. assistance "to combat Russian terror" and said he would discuss Ukraine's defense needs with Biden, with a special emphasis on air defense.

"Today I'm in Washington to strengthen our ability to defend Ukrainian children, our families, our homes, freedom and democracy in the world," he added.

While Biden and most congressional leaders still support aid to Ukraine, and Biden's Democrats control the Senate, Zelenskiy faced a tougher crowd than when he visited Washington nine months ago.

Dressed in military green to reflect his status as a wartime leader, Zelenskiy briefed the full U.S. Senate in the Capitol's historic Old Senate Chamber, receiving several standing ovations, according to a post on the platform X by Senator Chris Murphy.

Zelenskiy told senators that military aid was crucial to Ukraine's war effort, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in the Senate chamber after the briefing, which took place behind closed doors.

"If we don't get the aid, we will lose the war," Schumer quoted Zelenskiy as saying.

Zelenskiy later described his meetings with lawmakers as frank and constructive.

Zelenskiy held discussions with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other senior Pentagon leaders. He visited the Pentagon's memorial of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks where he and his wife each placed a bouquet of sunflowers, irises and other flowers.

The White House announced the U.S. will host a conference this fall for the U.S. defense industry, Ukrainian business leaders and officials from both governments to explore joint ventures and co-production, as Washington seeks to bolster Ukraine's long-term defense capabilities.

In their meeting, Zelenskiy shared with Biden his plans to address corruption and Biden emphasized the importance of strong anti-corruption institutions in Ukraine, the White House said.

In his speech at the National Archives, in front of a display case holding the U.S. Constitution, Zelenskiy thanked Americans for their support, saying "there is not a soul in Ukraine that does not feel gratitude to you, America."

Zelenskiy and his wife handed out awards to doctors who treated Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, and to people who raised funds for medical equipment, ambulances and other vital supplies.

As Ukraine's military counteroffensive grinds on and Congress stages a bitter debate over spending ahead of a possible government shutdown, a growing chorus of Republicans have questioned the billions of dollars Washington has sent Kyiv for military, economic and humanitarian needs.

The U.S. has sent some $113 billion in security and humanitarian aid to help Zelenskiy's government since Russia invaded in February 2022.



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