The U.S. Response to Kiev’s “Terrorism”: The Secretary of State of Ukraine and a Russian Security Council spokesman John Kirby
The Secretary of State spoke with the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs to reiterate the US’s support. Biden is expected on Tuesday to join an emergency video conference with G7 leaders during which Zelensky is expected to address the group.
Biden has marshalled international support for Ukraine by sending billions of dollars of weapons and aid to the country and by joining his allies and partners in punishing Moscow for the invasion. The U.S. Congress appropriated more than $112 billion in defense, economic and humanitarian aid last year.
The US will continue to offer long- and short-range air defense systems to Ukraine, but there are no decisions on what that would be, according to a senior administration official.
The US had yet to deliver NASAMS to Ukranian authorities according to a Department of Defense report. There was a brigadier at the time. Two systems are expected to arrive in the next two months, with the remaining six expected to arrive in late winter or early spring.
On Monday, Russia launched a total of 84 cruise missiles against targets in Ukranian territory, the General Staff of the armed forces of Ukraine said in a Facebook post.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the strikes were a response to what he described as acts of “terrorism” by Kyiv. Specifically, he referred to Saturday’s explosion on the Kerch Bridge linking Russia and Crimea – which he blamed on Ukraine’s “special services” – and a list of other alleged “crimes.”
Putin last month delivered a speech announcing the partial mobilization of some 300,000 reservists following successful Ukrainian counterattacks, raising the specter of nuclear weapons if he deemed the “territorial integrity” of Russia to be jeopardized. Russian President Putin recently announced the annexation of Ukrainian regions in defiance of international law.
The deputy heads of Russia’s Security Council believe Moscow should aim for the complete dismantlement of Zelensky’s regime.
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said Monday that there will likely be additional support packages for Ukraine announced “in the very near future.”
“It’s clear that he’s feeling the pressure both at home and overseas, and how he reacts to that only he can say,” Kirby told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
Biden warned last week about the potential for Armageddon, saying the risks of Putin’s nuclear threats were high. The US officials said the comment was not based on new intel about Putin’s intentions or changes in his nuclear posture.
President Biden will use a speech in Warsaw this week to make sure that Americans know the US will stand behind Ukraine as long as it takes.
A growing number of Americans feel the United States is giving too much after Congress appropriated more than $112 billion in military and economic aid in a single year.
“My great fear is that there’s going to be some scandal,” said Mark Cancian, an expert in military procurement who has worked both at the Office of Management and Budget and the Pentagon. “Either weapons show up in the Middle East, someplace where they’re not supposed to be, or some oligarch is discovered to have siphoned funds off and is sailing around the Mediterranean in his yacht, paid for by American taxpayers.”
So far, there are no signs that the U.S. aid to Ukraine is going in the wrong direction. But the war is far from over. Ukraine is asking for more support to continue fighting Russia. And the long and expensive work of rebuilding after the conflict has yet to begin.
John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said that when you spend that much money quickly, there will be problems.
Sopko has reported on failures with aid for Afghanistan, and believes that the country can only absorb so much aid before things get out of hand.
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You put a sponge on the kitchen counter and fill it with water. Everyone is using the term “dread, Diddle, Drop.” ” It holds the water,” Sopko said. “Then all of a sudden it reaches a certain point, and then all the water starts spreading out from that sponge.”
Concerns over the risks have been raised on Capitol Hill. Republican and Democratic supporters of Ukraine are worried about maintaining public support for U.S. aid.
Kevin McCarthy has supported Ukraine, but warns that there can’t be a blank check forUkrainian aid when the United States is in so much debt.
The most recent congressional funding package built in more funding for oversight of the aid, and Republican leaders have asked for more regular updates on checks and balances on the spending.
One report, released last month, found that there’s a “significant risk of misuse and diversion given the volume and speed of assistance” during the war. It also cites a classified Pentagon report that raised concerns that the Defense Department isn’t able to fully monitor the weapons, in part because U.S. troops are not allowed in the country.
Jessica Lewis is the assistant secretary for the bureau of political-military affairs of the State Department.
Lewis said that we should be concerned about the possibility that a weapon could be ended up in the wrong hands. That is what makes it necessary for us to put these things in place.
The defense staff at the Kyiv embassy have been increased, she said. The Ukrainian government has signed detailed security agreements about safeguarding the weapons and not transferring them to third parties.
“That is our responsibility to our own national security,” she said. “It’s our responsibility to our war fighters, and it’s our responsibility to the American public to make sure when we transfer a weapon, we are doing so responsibly.”
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The myriad oversight reviews are being done by a sprawling number of administration offices in several departments and agencies. There is a lack of coordination according to John Sopko.
He believes that the U.S. government is not ready to set up a dedicated team for the work. That’s a lesson that should have been learned from Afghanistan, he said, where his office would have been more effective had it been established much earlier in the conflict.
Sopko is particularly worried about economic aid. The U.S is sending $50 billion to the Ukrainian government in order to help pay officials, police officers, and teachers salaries.
He said that was one of the main concerns they had in Afghanistan. We had salaries that weren’t going to people who were the right people, and we couldn’t afford it. So we had ghost civil servants, ghost people in the military, ghost teachers or whatever.”
Last year, Ukraine was ranked 116 out of 180 countries for corruption by Transparency International. The issue has scuttled the country’s bid to join the European Union and kept it out of NATO.
But, just months before the war started, Biden himself was complaining about corruption, explaining that was why Ukraine wasn’t getting closer to joining the NATO alliance.
“The fact is, they still have to clean up corruption,” Biden said. “The fact is, they have to meet other criteria to get into the action plan. School’s out on that question.
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President Volodymr Zelenskyy — who was elected to office on an anti-corruption platform — had submitted a bill in early 2021 to close the Kyiv Administrative District Court, long criticized for corruption.
The Clinton-era U.S. ambassador to Ukraine thinks that corruption can be pretty resilient in that country. It took a while. It was shut down after a long time. It was a good thing forUkraine’s justice system.
Zelenskyy fired more officials in a corruption scandal last month. “I want people to understand,” Zelensky said in a video address during the scandal, “We will never return to how things were before … to the lifestyles that bureaucrats had gotten used to, to the old way of chasing power.”
Republicans and Democrats in Washington are calling for more oversight of the war effort. They don’t want to give any political leverage to people who are interested in cutting assistance.
“We as Democrats — as the White House — I think we should continue to work with these national security Republicans … and their fellow travelers in good faith to not let domestic politics prevent us from staying united behind Ukraine,” said Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Mass.
It is Biden’s political interests to work with those Republicans. He’s widely expected to make a run for a second term in the 2024 election, and he doesn’t want a Ukraine spending scandal to become an election issue.
He left Washington early on Sunday. Security concerns made it impossible to give details of how he got to Ukraine. Biden has since left the capital. Russian missiles and drones have been flying over Kyiv in recent months.
“I thought it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about U.S. support for Ukraine in the war,” Biden said, emphasizing bipartisan support in Congress for Ukraine.
U.S. Treasury Department Measures in Ukraine: Implications for Ukraine’s Security and Security Situations and for the Defence of the Russian Defense Sector
The Biden administration on Friday will be putting “constraints” on Chinese companies believed to be “active in evading sanctions” related to the war in Ukraine, a top US State Department official said Thursday.
A number of Russian and third country companies, including in China, were listed by the US Commerce Department on Friday as engaging in sanction evasion and support of Russia’s defense sector.
The forthcoming sanctions will also “clamp down on more Russian banks that have been evading sanctions” as well as “the middlemen who are flipping back money to the Russian government” through oil trade.
The US has consistently warned Beijing against providing lethal support and Nuland said the Russians have been asking the Chinese for weapons. This was a key topic of conversation between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi in Munich this weekend.
These latest actions by the Treasury Department are among a series of new measures announced by the Biden administration Friday that are meant to strengthen Kyiv and deter those providing support to Moscow as the war enters its second year without signs of abating.
In a coordinated action, the US State Department announced a slew of sanctions on Friday, hitting “over 60 individuals and entities” who have been “complicit” in Moscow’s aggression toward Ukraine and “the illegitimate administration of occupied Ukrainian territories for the benefit of the Russian Federation,” Blinken said in a statement.
The latest round of Treasury Department sanctions target a total of 22 individuals and 83 entities according to a Treasury Department news release.
The US State Department also imposed sanctions on dozens of Russian officials and entities involved in the war and will take “steps to impose visa restrictions on 1,219 members of the Russian military, including officers, for actions that threaten or violate the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence of Ukraine,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. Three Russian military officials – Artyom Igorevich Gorodilov, Aleksey Sergeyevich Bulgakov, and Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Vasilyev – will be blocked from entering the US due to their involvement “in gross violations of human rights perpetrated against Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of wars,” Blinken said.
Among those sanctioned by the Treasury Department Friday are Swiss-Italian businessman Walter Moretti “and his network of associates and companies” – including companies based in Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, Malta, Bulgaria and Russia – whom the Treasury Department said “have covertly procured sensitive Western technologies and equipment for Russian intelligence services and the Russian military, including hydraulic presses, armament packages, and armor plating.”
“These targets include government ministers, governors, and high-level officials in Russia, as well as six individuals and three entities operating in parts of Ukraine occupied by Russia, facilitating grain theft, and governing on behalf of Russia,” he said.
“Further, the Department is designating three key enterprises that develop and operate Russia’s nuclear weapons as well as three Russian civil nuclear entities under the Rosatom organizational structure. In taking these actions, we highlight that Russia uses energy resources, including in the nuclear sector, to exert political and economic pressure on its customers globally,” the top US diplomat said.
In addition, they hit three companies “involved in expanding Russia’s future energy production and export capacity,” including those “involved in the design and construction of the Sever Bay Terminal as part of the Vostok oil projects,” Blinken said.
A Russian-Turkmen arms dealer and a Russian businessman with ties to the Prime Minister of Russia were hit with sanctions by the agency.
The latest sanctions hit Russia’s production of carbon fiber and related materials, which are used in almost all defense platforms, including aircraft, ground combat vehicles, missiles, and military personal protection gear. They imposed sanctions on companies that did business in Russia.
The long-term impact of our sanctions have been seen in Russia’s struggle to replenish its weapons, as well as in its isolated economy. She said that the actions today with our G7 partners showed that we will stand withUkraine as long as it takes.
KYIV, Ukraine — U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made a surprise visit to Ukraine Monday, in which she reaffirmed America’s support for the country and announced $1.25 billion in economic aid for things like schools and hospitals.
“Our funds help pay for emergency personnel: from firefighters who answer the call when missiles strike to medical professionals who treat sick and wounded civilians,” Yellen said at a Kyiv school that the United States helped rebuild after Russian shelling broke most of the windows and doors last spring.
Last month, Ukraine’s government said it faced an almost $25 billion budget shortfall since Russia invaded the country in February 2022, particularly after making income taxes optional during wartime. Without foreign support, ministries have had trouble covering expenses.
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“Our salaries have stayed the same throughout the war, in large part thanks to the Americans’ support,” high school chemistry teacher Lara Chuvikina told NPR. The U.S. also funded a bomb shelter and elevator at the school.
As well as visiting the Ukrainian school, the U.S. Treasury chief met with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy and the country’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal.
“Just as security assistance bolsters the front lines, I believe that this economic assistance is fortifying the home front, thereby strengthening Ukraine’s resistance,” she said.
She stopped in the Ukrainian capital after attending a meeting of Group of 20 nations’ finance ministers. Several large economies including India, China and Turkey have refused to join U.S.-led sanctions against Russia. Over the weekend, China declined to sign onto a G-20 declaration condemning Russia’s invasion.
Sanctions are important to counter the military-industrial complex of Russia but they are not always used, as she admitted during her remarks Monday.
That makes manufactured goods like microchips, which are vital for manufacturing weapons, relatively easy to acquire in Russia. According to research by Elina Ribakova, deputy chief economist at the Institute of International Finance, chip imports into Russia have doubled in the past year.
“There are Russian companies, oligarchs, and organizations contributing to the Russian war effort that the U.S. hasn’t sanctioned yet,” said Mykola Murskyj, director of government affairs at Razom for Ukraine, a U.S.-based human rights group.
Yellen touted U.S.-led efforts to place price caps on Russian oil and other fuel products. Although these measures have not had the desired effect, some analysts say.