Ukraine update: US to send more javelins; Zelenskiy rebukes UN

Ukraine update: US to send more javelins; Zelenskiy rebukes UN

A woman carries her bicycle past destroyed buildings in the town of Borodianka, northwest of Kyiv, on Monday. (Photo: AFP)
A woman carries her bicycle past destroyed buildings in the town of Borodianka, northwest of Kyiv, on Monday. (Photo: AFP)

The United States and allies are poised to announce new sanctions, including a ban on all new investments in Russia, to punish the Kremlin for alleged atrocities against civilians committed by its forces in Ukraine.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the United Nations to do more to stop Moscow’s aggression, saying Russia was abusing its veto powers at the Security Council to block peace efforts. Russia has repeatedly denied the accusations of killing civilians, which have been documented and sparked international condemnation.

- Intel suspends business operations in Russia -

Intel said it has suspended all business operations in Russia following its earlier decision to suspend all shipments to customers in Russia and Belarus.

- US to send more military aid -

The US is sending another US$100 million in military equipment to Ukraine, the White House announced. The money will go toward purchasing more Javelin anti-tank missiles for the Ukrainian military, according to a White House official who requested anonymity to describe the new shipment.

Javelin missiles have been effective against Russian armoured vehicles during the six-week-long invasion and Ukrainian leaders have continued to request them from the S. The weapons are being sent after Biden administration warned Russia is repositioning forces from around Kyiv to prepare for a renewed assault on areas in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Combined with $300 million in assistance announced by the Department of Defense on April 1, the new aid brings total US assistance to $1.7 billion since the start of Russia’s invasion in late February, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. 

- Oil sinks toward $100 -

Oil fell as the European Union eschewed sanctions on Russian oil flows for now and a stronger dollar blunted the appeal of commodities.

West Texas Intermediate sank below $101 a barrel in early Asian trade after retreating 1.3% on Tuesday. While the EU will press on with additional penalties against Moscow for the war in Ukraine, including a ban on coal, crude won’t yet be targeted. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc will push ahead with a debate among members on targeting Russian oil.

- Wheat jumps on concern over exports -

Wheat prices jumped for a second day, rising 3.5% in Chicago trading, as concern about export routes from Ukraine added to a drought in the US. 

Grain export potential from Ukraine under current conditions “is limited to 1 million tonnes per month,” about one-fifth of the normal level, according to Kyiv-based analyst UkrAgroConsult. Ukraine blames Russian forces for blocking the shipping routes. The Russian defence ministry accused Kyiv of refusing to allow more than 60 foreign vessels to leave Ukrainian ports, Tass news agency reported. 

- Russia default risks rise as Treasury blocks US accounts -

Russia’s efforts to avoid a sovereign default took another blow after the US Treasury halted dollar debt payments from the country’s accounts at US banks.

The announcement is intended to force Russia into either draining its domestic dollar reserves or spending new revenue to make bond payments, or else go into default, according to a spokesperson for the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. The price of insuring Russia’s debt jumped on Tuesday, signalling an almost 90% chance that it will default within five years

- US military training Ukrainian soldiers in new weaponry -

The US military is training Ukrainian soldiers, including some who are in the US, on how to use the sophisticated equipment they are receiving, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told a US House panel on Tuesday. 

There is no training inside Ukraine or Poland, Gen Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the same hearing. Among the latest equipment being sent to Ukraine are the newest-model Switchblade drones armed with tank-busting warheads.

- Ukrainian officials detail more atrocities in Bucha -

Ukrainian law enforcement officials are investigating the torture and killing of six people by Russian troops in the northern town of Bucha, the Prosecutor General Office said. Russian soldiers set the bodies on fire, and they were later found near a pile of garbage, it said.

Ukrainian Ombudsman Lyudmyla Denysova said she and Bucha officials, along with journalists, “inspected the terrible results” of Russia’s atrocities - a huge 14-metre mass grave where 150 to 300 victims were buried. Prosecutors are seeking exhumation orders to open the mass graves in Bucha and law enforcement officers are examining the bodies.

- US, allies to impose new sanctions -

The US, the EU and G-7 countries will announce a new round of sanctions on Russia to punish the Kremlin for atrocities in Ukraine, including a ban on all new investments in the country, according to a US official with direct knowledge of the matter.

The governments will also increase sanctions on financial institutions and state-owned enterprises in Russia, as well as sanctioning unspecified Russian officials and their family members, the official said. 

- Zelenskiy aide says talks to move forward despite Bucha events -

Direct negotiations between Russia and Ukraine must press forward despite alleged war crimes committed against civilians in Bucha “because we want peace,” Ihor Zhovkva, Zelenskiy’s deputy chief of staff, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. Kyiv has repeatedly requested a direct meeting between Zelenskiy and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin but Zhovkva now said that “will be difficult.”

- Zelenskiy urges UN to strip Russian veto -

The UN should remove Russia’s veto power to block action halting the Kremlin’s assault against Ukraine, or overhaul its system to ensure peace, Zelenskiy told the body in New York. Otherwise, the UN Security Council should “disband itself.”

“Either remove Russia as the aggressor and the source of the war from blocking decisions regarding its own aggression -- its own war -- and then do all that’s possible to renew peace,” Zelenskiy told the chamber by video link. “Or show how one can truly reform itself.”

Russia, which has veto power as one of five permanent members of the Security Council, blocked an attempt by the 15-member body in February to strongly condemn its invasion of Ukraine and call on Moscow to withdraw its troops.

- US considers permanent bases in Eastern Europe -

Gen Milley said the US is considering the possibility of establishing permanent, forward-deployed bases in eastern Europe to help bolster the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato). The facilities would be staffed by rotating forces, as opposed to having a permanent troop presence, he said.

Testifying to a House committee, Gen Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said anti-armor and anti-aircraft weaponry has been the most effective at helping Ukraine’s military. In addition, drones and secure tactical radios supplied to Ukraine’s forces over several years have aided that effort, they said.

Gen Milley called Russia’s nuclear rhetoric -- including putting its nuclear forces on a higher alert -- "very provocative," adding "we are entering a world that is becoming more unstable."

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