United 24 luminaries appeal to Congress to call for more Ukraine funding

More than 35 ambassadors of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s fundraising platform, United 24, have called on the US legislature to continue funding for Kyiv amid dwindling weaponry and manpower to withstand an all-out Russian invasion.

Artists, activists, scholars and other notable influencers wrote an open letter as part of an opinion piece that was published on CNN’s website on April 10.

“Ukrainians are fighting for their existence,” the signatories stated in their diatribe.

Yale University history Prof. Timothy Snyder was the initiator of the open letter to Congress, which reconvened this week, following a two-week break.

Their appeal said that 470 days have passed since Congress last passed a bill to assist the war-torn country.

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“This is most of the time since Russia invaded [on a full scale] in February 2022,” during which time Russia “has reconstituted its army,” the appeal read. “It is preparing a new offensive, testing Ukraine across the front and illegally using CS [tear] gas to drive Ukrainian soldiers from their trenches.”

In addition to Snyder, other signatories include Washington-based chef José Andrés of World Central Kitchen, political scientist Francis Fukuyama, actor Mark Hamill who is featured in the Star Wars film franchise, the Imagine Dragons musical band, Harvard historian Serhii Plokhii and singer Barbara Streisand.

Russia Lacks 'Numbers' for Major Ukraine Breakthrough: NATO Commander
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Russia Lacks 'Numbers' for Major Ukraine Breakthrough: NATO Commander

The NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe told journalists that he had been in very close contact with his Ukrainian colleagues, expressing confidence that they "will hold the line."

Their message also said that Russia’s all-out invasion “threatens Ukraine’s Muslims, the Crimean Tatars,” who mostly live on the peninsula that has been illegally occupied since March 2014.

“Right now, Russia is using missiles and glide bombs to destroy the ancient and beautiful city of Kharkiv, once home to 1.5 million people, just as Russia destroyed Mariupol, Aleppo [in Syria] and Grozny [in Chechnya],” they jointly wrote.

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The latest Congressional bill, passed by the Senate but which has been sitting in the lower House of Representatives for more than 55 days allocates $60 billion for Ukraine, and has stalled only because Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has refused to advance it.

To date, the US has provided $47 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since February 2022.

Yale University history Prof. Timothy Snyder (second from right) initiated an open letter to the US Congress with other members of the United 24 Ukrainian presidential fundraising platform. (United 24)

Russia sold $46 million of stolen Ukrainian grain in 2023

Moscow sold 212,000 tons of stolen grain harvested in the occupied part of Zaporizhzhia region last year, the Lviv-based NGL Media non-profit group of journalists reported on March 29.

About $46 million worth of grain was transported to Turkey, Libya, Israel and European countries, their analysis of Russian export data found.

The Lviv-based group said their calculations are “far from exhaustive” and based on an examination of the activity of the Russian State Grain Operator while cross-examining publicly available customs declarations.

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A separate investigation by Bihus.info documented at least three cargo ships disembarking from Mariupol in the Azov Sea with stolen grain. The first one left the port in May 2023. The group of journalists based their investigation on Russian media outlets that posted videos.

“This Russian state-owned company has created a whole scheme to take stolen Ukrainian grain to international markets and legalize it there,” NGL Media group investigation said. “Ukrainian citizens were also involved in this scheme,” including a former lawmaker in the Ukrainian national legislature, the Verkhovna Rada.

A company founded in the now-occupied Donetsk regional city of Mariupol along the Azov Sea coast, State Grain Operator, three months after the February 2022 full-scale invasion, allegedly started seizing most of the occupied farmland.

It operated in the shadows until it appeared on Russian government registries in December 2022, NGL Media said.

Sixty-seven thousand tons of 145,000 tons of grain that were exported went through shell companies to disguise their origin.

Journalists from the Ukrainian Nashi Groshi public procurement founded the non-profit organization.

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A wheat stalk is seen on Ukrainian farmland. (Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine)

NATO’s Stoltenberg says Ukrainian attacks inside Russia acceptable

Outgoing NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Ukrainian cross-border strikes into Russia are legitimate targets.

Speaking at a joint news conference at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels with Finnish President Alexander Stubb, he said that such attacks are a “part of the right to self-defense…because Russia is using many different types of capabilities to attack Ukraine.”

Kyiv has taken credit for knocking out approximately 15 percent of Russia’s oil-producing capacity and has targeted air bases where aircraft are parked and plants that produce weapons, including drones.

Unmanned aerial vehicles with payloads of explosives are exclusively employed and surface drones have been used to decimate about one-third of Russia’s Black Sea naval fleet.

As recently as April 8, Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency (HUR) took credit for setting a Russian missile vessel ablaze in the Kaliningrad region which is not part of mainland Russia and is located between Poland and Lithuania.

“Repairs will take a long time,” an intelligence source told the Kyiv Post.

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NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg gives a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, on April 10, 2024. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

Fourteen injured in Odesa after Russian aerial attack

Four civilians were killed in a Russian aerial attack on the Black Sea coastal city of Odesa on the evening of April 10. A four-year-old girl is among at least 14 civilians who were injured, the regional military administration head, Oleh Kiper, said on his Telegram social messaging channel.

Four people are in “critical condition” and hospitalized, he added.

Among those is killed is a 10-year-old girl.

Volleys of ballistic rockets started at around 6:20 p.m. local time, prosecutors said and targeted Odesa’s “transport and logistical infrastructure."

A driver of a mini-van is seen killed after Russian shelling in Odesa on April 10. (Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine)

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