U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced trip to Ukraine on Thursday, his second visit to the country since the start of the war on February 24, annoucing that the U.S. intends to provide an additional $2 billion aid package to Ukraine and 18 other countries in and around the region.
This new aid package is in addition to the latest $675 million package to Ukraine, announced by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. It will include rounds for HIMARS, as well as military vehicles, and other equipment.
This comes as the head of the European Commission (EC), Ursula von der Leyen, yesterday said that the EC had submitted a proposal to the Council of the European Union to allocate an additional €5 billion in macro-financial assistance to Ukraine.
Blinken’s trip comes as Kyiv has launched a counter-offensive in southern Ukraine to reclaim Russian-occupied territories.
Both Blinken and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Ukraine last April, still the highest level U.S. officials to have traveled to the country. U.S. President Joe Biden has yet to travel to Ukraine. Soon after taking over this week, newly installed British Prime Minister Liz Truss accepted an invitation from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to visit Kyiv.
Ukraine’s Top General Warns Of Russia Provoking “Limited” Nuclear Conflict
Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine Armed Forces Valeriy Zaluzhnyi
Ukraine's military chief warned of the threat of Russia using nuclear weapons in Ukraine and creating a "limited" nuclear conflict that draws in other countries.
General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, in an article co-authored by lawmaker Mykhailo Zabrodskyi and published by state news agency Ukrinform, wrote: "There is a direct threat of the use, under certain circumstances, of tactical nuclear weapons by the Russian Armed forces…It is also impossible to completely rule out the possibility of the direct involvement of the world's leading countries in a 'limited' nuclear conflict, in which the prospect of World War III is already directly visible."
The wide-ranging article offered an assessment of possible paths to victory, and said more military aid and equipment is needed from allies. “In order to win the war, the only possibility is ‘a series of several consecutive, or ideally simultaneous, counterstrikes by Ukraine's armed forces during the 2023 campaign," they said.
The article also contained Ukraine's first acknowledgement that it was responsible for the rocket strikes on Russian air bases in annexed Crimea, including one that damaged the Saky military base last month.
The general goes on to write that "The length of the war is already measured in months, and there is every reason to believe that this time period will extend beyond 2022."
Amid Ukraine’s Counter-Offensive, Pro-Russian Leader Calls For Evacuation
The Russian head of the occupied Kupiansk city administration, Vitaly Ganchev, has warned women and children to evacuate the city as Ukrainian forces approach.
Ganchev said in a video on Telegram on Thursday: “Today, the situation is developing in Kupiansk that forces us to ensure the evacuation of the population, at least children, women, due to the fact that the city is constantly under terror, constant rocket attacks from the armed forces of Ukraine, which do not (desist from) attempts to destroy infrastructure of the city.” The city is located in the Kharkiv Oblast region in the East of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukrainian defenders have achieved progress on the front line near Kharkiv, as the counteroffensive announced last month continues and some Russian-held settlements have been recaptured.
Russian military bloggers and analysts believe the Ukrainian push towards Kupiansk aims to cut off supply lines for Russian troops.
Belarus Launches Military Drills Near Ukraine And Poland
According to Deputy Chief of Ukraine’s General Staff Oleksii Hromov, the drills will focus on crossing the border with Ukraine and claiming parts of Ukraine that Belarus deems to be “lost territories,” potentially including parts of Ukraine’s Volyn, Rivne, and Zhytomyr oblasts.
Nonetheless, Hromov said the chance of a full-scale Belarusian offensive into Ukraine remains low.
Could Poland Wind Up As A Russia Ally?
Russian President Vladimir Putin with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the Kremlin on Feb. 1
After having announced Poland's rupture with Hungary, Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki has reversed course. It is a sign that Poland's ruling conservative government may be ready to bet on an alliance with Moscow. Read the article from Gazeta Wyborcza, translated from Polish by Worldcrunch: Poland Renews Alliance With Orban — Putin May Be Next
2.5 Million Forcibly Deported To Russia In “Filtration” Scheme, Ukraine tells UN
A total of 2.5 million people have been forcibly deported from Ukraine to Russia as part of a Russian “filtration” scheme, according to Ukraine, in a report presented to the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday. Among the 2.5 million people were 38,000 children – many of whom had been taken from their parents.
Deputy Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Khrystyna Hayovyshyn said that thousands of Ukrainian citizens are taken to “isolated and depressed regions of Siberia and the far east." According to the Ambassador, Russian authorities are terrorizing those it deports under the pretense of seaching for “dangerous” people.
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia denied the allegations, telling the Security Council that the Ukrainian citizens go through “registration,” not filtration, procedures.
After BoJo, Ukrainians Worried If Truss Will Stay The Course
Protesters from ''Don't Pay UK'' (DPUK) initiative hold banners outside 10, Downing Street
New Prime Minister Liz Truss is saying all the right things about maintaining Britain’s support of Ukraine in its defense after the Russian invasion. Still Kyiv-based media Livy Bereg writes that Ukrainians have serious doubts that she will be as steadfast a supporter as outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Citing her past flip-flop on Brexit, Livy Bereg adds that her political career is “characterized by some ... variability.” Read the article translated from Ukrainian by Worldcrunch: Why Ukrainians Have Real Doubts About Liz Truss
Dead Body Of British Aid Worker Shows Signs Of Torture
“Stress and illness”. Back in July, that’s how Russia had attributed cause of death in custody of British aid worker Paul Urey". But now with his body returned to Ukraine, there are clear signs of harsh torture including missing limbs, numerous cuts, according to Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian parliament's human rights ombudsman.
Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin announced a criminal investigation into the circumstances of Urey's death.
Urey, originally from Cheshire was captured in April by Russian backed separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and accused of being a mercenary.
Chimpanzee Escapes From Kharkiv Zoo, Returned On A Bicycle
A chimpanzee escaped from the Kharkiv Zoo in Ukraine and was found roaming the streets in a park near the central city square. The 10-year-old chimpanzee, named Chichi, was returned to the zoo on top of the zookeeper’s bicycle, along with a yellow raincoat.
The video shows the zoo employee, Victoria Kozyreva, sitting with Chichi and trying to persuade it to return to the zoo. Oleksiy Grigoriev, the zoo’s director, confirmed that the chimpanzee had been returned safely to its enclosure.