During a House Armed Services Committee hearing, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin delivered a stark message
Day 652 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Republicans in US Senate Blocked Billions in Aid to Kyiv
Day 652 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- One person was killed in Ukraine in Russian airstrikes on grain infrastructure along the Danube in Odesa Oblast
- Republicans in the US Senate have blocked billions in aid to Kyiv
- Zelensky seeks a meeting with Orban over Ukraine's EU membership
- Presidential elections in Russia were scheduled for March 17
- Putin and Mohammed bin Salman discussed cooperation within the framework of OPEC+
- The traitor of Ukraine Illia Kyva was shot in the head near Moscow
- In Skopje, a ban is being prepared for the pro-Russian party, whose members killed a child
One person was killed in Ukraine in Russian airstrikes on grain infrastructure along the Danube in Odesa Oblast
One person was killed in Ukraine in Russian airstrikes on grain storage infrastructure near the Danube River in Odesa region overnight, Reuters reported, citing local authorities.
Oleg Kiper, the chairman of the Odesa regional military administration, reported that the drone attack in the southwestern Ukrainian region lasted for more than two hours. Most of the drones were shot down, but some managed to get past the anti-aircraft defenses, hitting a warehouse, granary and trucks. One driver was killed.
Ukraine's Danube ports have become a key route for grain exports since Russia blockaded the Black Sea following its full-scale invasion of the neighboring country in February last year. Moscow carried out a series of attacks on Ukrainian port infrastructure on the river in August and September after pulling out of the Black Sea grain deal in July, but there has been a lull in those attacks since then, Reuters noted.
Ukraine's air defense has shot down 15 of the 18 Shahed drones that Russia sent that night, the country's air force announced in the meantime, as quoted by Ukrinform.
The main targets of the attack were Odesa Oblast, as well as Khmelnytsky Oblast to the west.
Republicans in the US Senate have blocked billions in aid to Kyiv
Republican senators blocked the White House's request for $106 billion in emergency aid, mostly for Ukraine and Israel, Reuters reported.
With 51 votes "against" to 49 "for", the legislators decided not to allocate 50 billion to Ukraine and 14 billion to Israel. Hours earlier, expecting exactly this decision, Volodymyr Zelensky canceled his speech before the Congress, we recall.
Previously, US President Joe Biden said that the unblocking of money for Ukraine cannot wait in the face of the "Putin" threat. Biden addressed Congress, where he said Putin would not stop if he defeated Ukraine and outlined a grim scenario for a Russian attack on a NATO country.
Republicans have tied aid to Ukraine to a toughening of immigration policy toward Mexicans, and Biden has expressed a willingness to compromise.
"Stand up to Putin's tyranny. Stand up for freedom, really stand up for it. We are the reason why Putin doesn't completely overpower Ukraine and go after it. I've said before - if we withdraw, how many of our European friends will continue to separate funds and in what volumes? This is too serious," said Biden.
“Congress must approve additional aid to Ukraine before the Christmas break. It's simple. And frankly, it's amazing that we even made it this far. Republicans in Congress are bent on giving Putin the greatest gift he could have hoped for and abandoning our position as a global leader. Make no mistake, this vote will be long remembered. History will judge harshly those who turn their backs on the cause of freedom. We cannot let Putin win. We can't,” Biden said before the vote.
Zelensky seeks a meeting with Orban over Ukraine's EU membership
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is seeking a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban ahead of next week's meeting of European leaders in Brussels to decide whether to open negotiations on Ukraine's entry into the EU.
Zelenskiy's chief of staff Andriy Yermak said he had spoken to Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó about a possible meeting after Orban and his party publicly opposed opening membership talks.
Szijjártó said Budapest was open to such a meeting, "but it only makes sense if there is a chance for the meeting to have a positive outcome. This requires serious preparation and preliminary talks," the statement quoted by Reuters said.
Hungary objects to the decision because Kyiv has not yet adopted the law it requested to protect the Hungarian minority in Ukraine. At the beginning of the week, Orban opposed the recommendation of the European Commission to start the negotiations, writing in a letter to the President of the European Council Charles Michel that it was ill-founded and poorly prepared.
In a video posted on social media, the Hungarian prime minister said the commission had not taken into account the effect that accepting a country like Ukraine would have on access to EU funds for other EU countries.
Yermak, who is currently in Washington with a Ukrainian delegation discussing US aid to Kyiv, said Ukraine was "counting on a positive decision" from the EU meeting. He assured that the minority law requested by Budapest will be considered in the coming days.
A position by Orban's Fidesz parliamentary group, adopted this week, said EU enlargement "must remain an objective process based on rules and results".
"Starting membership negotiations with Ukraine must be based on consensus among the EU member states... The conditions for this are not present today," the position says.
Orban will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday ahead of the summit, after the Hungarian prime minister also publicly opposed an increase in the European budget to ensure continued EU economic and military aid to Ukraine.
The EU needs unanimity on both the budget and enlargement to make a decision.
In November, Orban launched a national poll of the Hungarian population that included questions on both membership and continued military aid to Ukraine, which the prime minister opposes.
Last week, Orban hosted Charles Michel in Budapest, but according to press reports, Michel left empty-handed.
At the end of November, the European Commission surprisingly unfroze 920 million euros for Hungary's recovery plan, which it has been holding for two years due to Budapest's unfulfilled preconditions related to the rule of law.
Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova hinted in an interview last week that up to €10bn more of cohesion funds, which have been frozen for jeopardizing the EU's financial interests, could soon be on their way as Budapest makes serious efforts to fulfill its commitments to the rule of law.
In the interview with the Hungarian newspaper Nepszava, Jourova made an explicit provision that the commission's decision would be made on the basis of strict rules and regardless of the date of the summit.
Presidential elections in Russia were scheduled for March 17
The presidential elections in Russia were scheduled for March 17 next year. The date was determined by the upper house of the Russian parliament, as is required by law, TASS reported.
The Federation Council made the decision unanimously. 162 senators voted "in favor".
"With this decision, we are practically starting the election campaign," said the speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, quoted by Reuters. She pointed out that for the first time in a presidential election in Russia, residents of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions in Ukraine, which Moscow announced last year that it annexed, will have the right to vote.
"Electing a head of state together, we fully share the common responsibility and common destiny of our fatherland," Matviyenko said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not yet officially announced whether he will run for a new term amid the war in Ukraine. However, many expect Putin to participate in the elections, and few doubt his victory.
Now the Russian president is 71 years old. If he runs and wins the March election, he will remain in power until at least 2030.
According to the constitution, Putin is entitled to another six-year term - until 2036.
"Our people will make the only possible right choice... by voting for Russia, for victory," the speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament said significantly, as quoted by AFP.
Putin and Mohammed bin Salman discussed cooperation within the framework of OPEC+
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed cooperation within the framework of OPEC+ at their meeting in Riyadh, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said yesterday, quoted by Reuters.
The two leaders agreed to continue this cooperation.
Putin met with Mohammed bin Salman after oil prices fell despite a pledge to cut oil exports by OPEC+, a grouping that includes members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and their partners. among which is Russia.
Putin's meeting with the crown prince ended and the Russian leader left in a car.
"We spoke again about the cooperation in OPEC+. We agree that our countries bear a great responsibility for the interaction aimed at keeping the international energy market at the required level and in a stable and predictable state," said Peskov, quoted by the Interfax news agency.
At his meeting with Putin, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcomed the coordination between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which contributes to the "elimination of tensions in the Middle East", reported the Saudi news agency SPA.
"We have many common interests and on many issues work together for the benefit of Russia, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and the whole world," said Mohammed bin Salman.
The Saudi crown prince will visit Russia, but the date of his visit has not yet been agreed upon, Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
The traitor of Ukraine Illia Kyva was shot in the head near Moscow
Former Ukrainian MP Illia Kyva, who betrayed his homeland and sided with the Russian occupiers, was found dead in the Russian Federation. The collaborator was killed by a precise shot to the head.
Kyva was found dead in the Moscow region, the Russian television channel REN TV reported, citing its sources. The Telegram channel "Emergency Call 112" reported that the traitor's body was found in the city of Odintsovo (administrative center of the Odintsovo City District of the Moscow Region).
"The famous Ukrainian politician Illia Kyva was found dead. The body of the former deputy of the Verkhovna Rada was found in a villa settlement... The police are already working at the scene of the incident," reads the message.
Illia Kyva fled Ukraine on the eve of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation under the pretext of going on holiday in the EU. Later it became known that the deputy was located on Russian territory. There he asked for political asylum and said that there was an attempt to kidnap him in Ukraine.
The Verkhovna Rada stripped the fugitive of his mandate, and law enforcement authorities opened criminal proceedings against him under several articles. In particular, he was charged with treason. He is also suspected of declaring false information.
On November 13, it was reported that Kyva was sentenced in absentia in Ukraine to 14 years in prison and confiscation of property under several articles of the Criminal Code.
Within the framework of a special operation of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the criminal and traitor of Ukraine - the former MP Illia Kyva, was liquidated with a light firearm, the UNIAN agency reported, citing informed sources in the law enforcement agencies.
It is a special operation of the department.
However, according to other Ukrainian media, the murder was carried out by GUR - the Main Directorate of Intelligence, which is headed by the mythical Major General Kyrylo Budanov.
Russian media finds symbolism in the liquidation of Kyva so close to Moscow. According to them, in this way, Kyiv gives a sign of its abilities on a key date - St. Nicholas Day is the professional holiday of the fighters from the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
In Skopje, a ban is being prepared for the pro-Russian party, whose members killed a child
Macedonian Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski is demanding the dissolution of the fringe pro-Russian party Desna, whose chairman and members are suspected of kidnapping and murdering a 14-year-old girl and a 74-year-old man.
On Tuesday night, it became clear that the chairman of "Desna" Lyupco Palevski - Palco, the main suspect in the two murders, has been arrested in Turkey.
The other four arrested in North Macedonia for the brutal crimes are also members of Palco's party.
Spasovski called "Desna" a "criminal den, which through politicking, coalitions and contracts, through all kinds of influences from outside" aimed at destabilizing North Macedonia.
“Don't we know that this party and its president directly opposed the progress of our country, NATO, our European path?” - the interior minister asked rhetorically.
"Desna" is a marginal, far-right party that denounces "Macedonian traitors", opposes the country's European integration and advocates rapprochement with Russia and the BRICS.
The members of "Desna" often abused the church and gathered for party events precisely in church facilities.
"Who forbade the creation of Orthodox politics in a country that is anything but secular, a country of thieves, of satanic policies. That is exactly why we, the Macedonian nationalists in Desna, have our prayer, our Macedonian for Macedonia. And we always pray to God," reads one of the party's announcements.
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