Overview:

  • US Congress passes last-minute defense bill that includes $300 million for Ukraine
  • Orban blocks EU aid to Kyiv
  • Russian jets launch missiles on central Ukraine, air base
  • EU adds “unprecedented” new sanctions on Russia

US extends Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, but Senate vows to vote next week on larger package

US Congress on Thursday passed a National Defense Authorization Act that includes a provision to extend assistance to Ukraine through 2027, with $300 million pegged for fiscal year 2024. The defense budget, which included the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, easily passed both the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-led House of Representatives.

Separately, the Senate vowed to extend its current session, rather than adjourn for the holidays on Friday, to revisit US President Joe Biden’s proposal for $110 billion in international aid, which includes a suggested $61 billion for Kyiv.

“The Senate will return on Monday,” Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said. “That will give negotiators from the White House, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans time to work through the weekend in order to reach a framework agreement.”

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Of course, any deal reached in the Senate would also need to pass the House of Representatives, which has already gone into its holiday recess, however, representatives can be called back to Capitol Hill if the Senate reaches an agreement.

“What Putin said just now about American aid to Ukraine: ‘The free stuff is going to run out someday, and it seems it already is.’ We must act,” Schumer wrote on social media.

Hungary forces delayed vote on Ukrainian aid package

British Defence Intelligence Update Ukraine 24 February 2023
Other Topics of Interest

British Defence Intelligence Update Ukraine 24 February 2023

Latest from the British Defence Intelligence.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban late on Thursday blocked Brussels’ approval of $50 billion in new military assistance for Ukraine. Orban confirmed his veto on social media.

European Council President Charles Michel confirmed in the early morning hours of Friday that European leaders had failed to agree to a budget plan including aid for Ukraine after Hungary’s objection. Michel said that European leaders would revisit the budget “early next year.”

Earlier in the day, Orban agreed to abstain from a vote to begin talks for Ukraine and Moldova to join the European Union.

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“I don’t want to go too much into the details because I want to work with colleagues in the days to come, in the weeks to come to prepare a summit that will take place next year, early next year,” AFP quoted Michel as saying.

Brussels votes to tighten oil price cap (for non-EU countries)

The European Union on Thursday voted to add a list of sanctions on Moscow, including those targeting diamond and oil exports, AFP reported.

The sanctions would tighten enforcement of an oil price cap on crude oil purchased by on-EU countries. Leaders from the 27 countries meeting in Brussels said they “welcomed” what the AFP called an “unprecedented battery of sanctions” on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At least three Kinhzal missiles were launched at Central Ukraine, one struck down

Air Force officials said on Thursday that Moscow’s MiG-31K fighter jets carrying Kinzhal missiles struck targets in central Ukraine after their takeoff from the Savasleyka airbase in the Nizhny Novgorod region of Russia.  

The missiles approached their targets just 10 minutes after air raid alarms were set off. Spokespeople from the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) said air defenses shot down one of them, while another two were believed to have detonated near the Starokostiantyniv air base in Khmelnytskyi region west of the capital, although military officials as of Thursday evening declined to comment on any resultant damage.

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Earlier on Thursday, Kyiv Post reported that “warnings were given on Telegram channels that Kinzhal hypersonic missiles were headed to Kyiv, and Kyiv Post journalists in the city center heard two explosions shortly after.”

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