The clock on the U.S. financial support of Ukraine may be ticking.
With Republicans expected to win a House majority in next month’s midterms, prospective Speaker Kevin McCarthy likely sent a message about his party’s increasing reluctance to fund the war against Russia when he said Tuesday the GOP would not hand Ukraine a “blank check.”
“I think people are gonna be sitting in a recession and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine,” McCarthy, the House minority leader, told Punchbowl News.
A significant decrease in American backing would represent a major blow for Ukraine, which has gained ground and momentum in its attempt to repel the Russian invasion thanks in large part to a supply of U.S. weapons like the HIMARS rocket launcher.
Since the war started in February, the Democratic-led Congress has approved tens of billions of dollars in emergency security and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, while the Biden administration has shipped billions worth of weapons and equipment from military inventories.
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►Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin says there was “wide support” within parliament to build a fence along the 830-mile Russian border.
►There are now 15 people reported dead from Monday’s crash of a Russian warplane that had engine trouble and plummeted into a residential area in the Russian port city of Yeysk, on the Sea of Azov. Three of the victims died after jumping from a nine-story apartment building to escape a huge fire, authorities said.
►A funeral was held Tuesday for Col. Oleksiy Telizhenko, who was abducted from his Bucha home by Russian soldiers in March. Six months later his body was found with signs of torture buried in a forest not far away from his village.
►German authorities crossed a “red line” with arms supplies to Kyiv, given the country’s historical attacks on Russia, Kremlin envoy to Germany Sergey Nechayev said in an interview with TASS. Germany, Denmark and Norway this month announced plans to supply Ukraine with 16 armored howitzer artillery systems.
►The death toll from Monday’s drone blitz on Kyiv rose to five when rescuers found the body of an elderly woman.
For the second time in less than a week, a high-ranking Russian official is urging that civilians leave some areas of the southern Kherson province in anticipation of a Ukrainian attempt at reclaiming that territory.
Gen. Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, called the situation in Kherson — both the region and city — “very difficult,” and said residents should be evacuated for their protection “under the relocation program being prepared by the Russian government.”
Ukrainian troops have been advancing deeper into Kherson, one of four provinces illegally annexed by Russia last month, to the point Kremlin-appointed regional head Vladimir Saldo urged residents Thursday to move to Russia. Government authorities said they would pay for their accommodations and travel expenses.
On Tuesday, Saldo said the residents of four towns were to be moved across the Dnieper River, away from the fighting. He added that the Russian army was fortifying defenses in the area but warned that flooding from a dam release could present danger.
Two people in Kyiv were killed and hundreds of thousands of people across Ukraine lost power and water Tuesday in the latest Russian attacks targeting the nation’s utilities, local authorities said.
About 50,000 people lost power in Kyiv. In Zhytomyr, about 85 miles west of the capital, the mayor said the entire city of 250,000 lost power and water. Repairs quickly reconnected some homes, but 150,000 people were still without electricity hours after the morning strike, regional authorities said. Nighttime temperatures were expected to dip into the mid-30s this week.
Explosions also were heard Tuesday in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, in its industrial area south of the city center.
The expanded use of drone attacks combined with depriving Ukrainians of electricity, heat and water as winter approaches appears to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s new war strategy.
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“Since Oct 10, 30% of Ukraine’s power stations have been destroyed, causing massive blackouts across the country,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted. “No space left for negotiations with Putin’s regime.”
Russia has launched more than 190 strikes across Ukraine with missiles and drones since Oct. 7, according to State Emergency spokesperson Oleksandr Khorunzhyi, who said more than 70 people were killed, more than 240 were injured, and 380 sites were damaged.
A strong majority of Ukrainians want to keep fighting Russia’s invasion amid both battleground triumphs and deadly strikes on their homeland – and they’ve set a high bar for victory, according to a Gallup survey released Tuesday.
Seven out of 10 Ukrainians surveyed in September said their country should continue fighting until it wins, according to the survey. About one quarter preferred negotiating an end to the fighting as soon as possible.
They were even more united when asked what would have to happen for Ukraine to declare it won the war. Nine out of 10 defined victory as regaining all lost territory since 2014, including Crimea. Men were more likely than women to want to fight until the war is won. Support for continued fighting was stronger in regions farthest from the ground war and weaker closer to the action.
The survey was conducted as a stunningly successful Ukrainian counteroffensive reclaimed thousands of square miles of occupied territory last month but before Russia’s recent retaliatory attacks.
Among the other findings:
Russia has had to acquire weapons from countries such as Iran and North Korea while using up its stock of munitions “at an unsustainable rate,” the U.S. director of national intelligence said.
Speaking late Monday in Washington, Avril Haines said Russia faces a major supply shortage, especially of precision weapons such as cruise missiles. That helps explain Moscow’s recent reliance on Iranian drones carrying explosives to attack Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and spread terror among its citizens.
Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, said that after Iran provided Russia with a first batch of 1,750 drones, the Kremlin has placed orders for more. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Tuesday his country should sever diplomatic relations with Teheran.
Iran has denied supplying drones to Russia, but the New York Times reported Tuesday that Iranian trainers have been sent to occupied Crimea to help the Russian military address issues with the unmanned aerial vehicles.
Haines said Russia has also been importing artillery shells and rockets, and added that international sanctions and export controls against Russia are exposing its technological weaknesses.
Russia has kidnapped two more senior officials from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, its operator said.
Oleh Kostiukov, head of the information technology service, and the assistant general director of the station, Oleh Osheka, have been detained by Russian forces, Energoatom wrote on its Telegram channel.
Earlier this month, human resources official Valeriі Martyniuk was abducted and has yet to be released. The plant’s director general, Ihor Murashov, was detained Sept. 30 and released three days later after being forced to make false statements on camera. The Russians typically try to extract information from the officials before letting them go.
Ukrainian technicians have continued running the plant after it was seized by Russian troops early in the war.
A Moscow court rejected Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny’s appeal of his conviction on fraud and contempt of court charges, Tass reported. Navalny appeared via video link from a penal colony where he is serving a nine-year sentence. The defense asked that the verdict be overturned and that Navalny be acquitted. A Moscow district court had found Navalny guilty of election campaign fundraising fraud and contempt of court.
Navalny is considered a political prisoner by the European Union, President Joe Biden and a host of international officials who have urged Russia to release him.
The Kremlin declined to confirm that the Russian military is using Iranian drones in its attacks on Ukraine.
“Russian equipment with Russian names is being used,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.
The Iranian Shahed drones, often called “suicide drones” because they slam into targets and explode, reportedly have been rebranded Geran-2 by Russia and used to carry out strikes across Ukraine.
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Contributing: The Associated Press
The clock on the U.S. financial support of Ukraine may be ticking.