Pentagon to send $300 million more worth of weaponry to Kyiv

The US Defense Department announced on March 12 that it is sending about $300 million worth of munitions to Ukraine that it has found in its contracts that have saved money, said National Security adviser Jake Sullivan, as cited by the Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) News Hour program.

“It is nowhere near enough to meet Ukraine’s needs,” he told reporters. “Ukraine is an existential fight.”

The most recent supply of materiel includes a large installment of artillery rounds and guided multiple-launch rocket projectiles for HIMARS systems that have a range of more than 50 miles that Kyiv uses to great effect.

“Of course, this is not sustainable for Ukraine in the long-term,” Sullivan added. “We need more supplemental aid for Ukraine.”

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A lingering bill that includes $60 billion in funding for Ukraine has passed the Senate but is sitting in the lower House of Representatives that is being stalled by a minority cohort of lawmakers loyal to former and current presidential candidate Donald Trump, notably Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.)

Wanted Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash says, “enough is enough” through lawyers

A lawyer for wealthy Ukrainian natural gas dealer Dmytro Firtash, who is wanted on corruption charges in a Chicago federal court in the US, told local media that “enough is enough,” after ten years of house arrest in the Austrian capital of Vienna as he continues to battle extradition.

“Since his arrest, Firtash has twice prevailed before Austrian courts, despite US efforts to extradite him. The Austrian trial court found no basis for the US allegations against Firtash, denying extradition in 2015,” his lawyer, Dan Webb told ABC7 news in Chicago on March 12.

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After months of partisan infighting, the United States House of Representatives finally approved the major package in a vote Saturday, giving a morale boost to Ukrainian forces.

Firtash is wanted in the US for an allegedly complicated business corruption scheme that involves bribing Indian officials to obtain a titanium contract and is connected to aircraft manufacturer Boeing that is based in Chicago.

In Ukraine, Firtash, 58, is suspected of embezzling nearly the equivalent of $500 million dollars over a four-year period.

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A native of Ternopil Oblast, the businessman with vast Moscow ties – his record bail of $172 million in Vienna was paid by a Russian oligarch connected to the Kremlin – has vehemently denied all the allegations and says he supports Ukraine.

“The US government has thus cost Firtash irreplaceable time with his family (including his wife and children), seriously impacted his hard-earned businesses, and constrained his ability to assist Ukraine in its time of war. Enough is enough,” Webb said.

The gas magnate, who allegedly funneled Russian gas via Ukraine through a web of corrupt schemes for years, was arrested in the wake of the pro-democratic Revolution of Dignity in early 2014. Up to that point, he had supported incumbent President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia following the nearly three-month long protests in Kyiv and who is wanted for treason in Ukrainian courts.

Upon his arrest in Vienna, Firtash hired powerful lawyers, including a former Austrian justice minister, and the respectable Chicago law firm of Winston and Strawn, to fight being brought before a federal court in the third most populous city of the US.

A spokesperson for the federal prosecutor’s office, Joseph Fitzpatrick, refrained from commenting on the legal case.

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Firtash also is spuriously seeking diplomatic immunity, according to previous reporting by the Kyiv Post.

Ukraine’s foreign affairs ministry summons Vatican envoy over “white flag” comments by Pope

Kyiv summoned Vatican envoy Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas to convey a message of “disappointment” over Pope Francis’s controversial statement about Ukraine.

The Catholic world’s spiritual leader said earlier in the week that Ukraine, seemingly in a weaker position against invading Russian forces, should “show courage of the white flag” and negotiate for peace.

His comments to a Swiss media outlet infuriated Ukrainians who expressed their frustration on various social media platforms while calling on the Vatican to denounce the genocidal war and for Moscow to withdraw its troops and weapons from Ukraine.

Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba’s office said “that instead of appeals legalizing the right of the strongest and encouraging him to neglect the norms of the international law, the Head of the Catholic Church would rather be expected to send signals to the world community about the need to unite immediately the forces to ensure the victory of good over evil, as well as to appeal to the aggressor, not to the victim.”

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Russian aerial attacks injures at least 30 civilians in Zelensky’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih

More than 30 civilian victims were hospitalized following a barrage of Russian airborne attacks on the Dnipropetrovsk regional industrial city of Kryvyi Rih on the evening of March 12, Interfax news agency reported.

“Five people are in the operating room,” said Serhiy Lysak, head of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Military Administration.

The “horrendous attack” on high-rise apartment building, said United Nations’ Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine Denis Brown, buried “residents under the rubble.”

“I am appalled to know that families were just getting together to have dinner and spend a quiet evening at home just to see their homes damaged and their loved ones hurt,” she said in a statement.

The city is President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown and in his nightly address, he said that “the Kremlin must get used to the fact that terror does not go unpunished for them.”

 

Earlier in the day, explosions were reported at Russian oil refineries, including one owned by Lukoil that produces 5.8 percent of the nation’s oil output in the town of Kirishi in Nyzhny Novgorod region, industry sources say.

Reuter’s news agency said that “waves of drone attacks” targeted critical infrastructure across the country, including “Moscow, Leningrad, Belgorod, Kursk, Bryansk, Tula and Oryol” regions.

Both adversaries have tried to cripple each other’s energy and other critical infrastructure in the multi-faceted war that is entering its 11th year.

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House lawmakers in US launch drive to bypass speaker Mike Johnson for $60 billion aid package to Ukraine

A long-shot effort to unleash about $60 billion in security aid to Kyiv has been launched in the US lower legislative chamber of the House of Representatives on March 12. It would bypass House Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) refusal to put the Senate’s foreign aid bill to a vote that includes assistance for Ukraine amid a grim shortage in heavy weaponry.

Democrats in the chamber, together with centrist Republicans, are driving the initiative, the Associated Press and HBO’s Axios news agency reported from Washington.

The discharge petition clause stipulates that the House can initiate and vote upon bills after the legislative chamber is in session for 30 days and could bypass the speaker’s mandate to place bills to a vote.

A minority group of Republicans loyal to former President Donald Trump and current Republican front-runner have refused to vote on the bill passed by a bi-partisan vote in the Senate.

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