Zelenskyy to Visit Washington as Congress Debates More Ukraine Aid

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to visit Washington next week as Congress continues to debate $21 billion more in aid to Ukraine to support its fight against Russia.

U.S. lawmakers are increasingly divided over whether to provide Ukraine with more aid as its battle against the Russian invasion continues. President Joe Biden is seeking $13 billion in military aid and $8 billion in humanitarian aid. But some Republican lawmakers oppose sending more aid to Ukraine.

Zelenskyy is expected to meet with Biden next week at the White House after the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.

Although Ukraine’s counteroffensive push against the Russian invasion has been slower than expected, Zelenskyy on Thursday celebrated what he described as Ukraine’s destruction of a Russian air defense system on the annexed Crimean Peninsula.

“A special mention should be made to the entire personnel of the Security Service of Ukraine as well as our naval forces,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video message. “The invaders’ air defense system was destroyed. Very significant, well done!”

New sanctions

Earlier on Thursday, the U.S. sanctioned more than 150 businesses and individuals in Russia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Georgia to crack down on evasion of trade restrictions aimed at blocking funding for Russia’s war against Ukraine, now in its 19th month.

The newest sanctions package is one of the biggest imposed by the State Department and the U.S. Treasury. It targets those who are selling Western technology to Moscow to aid its war effort, particularly businesses and people in Turkey, a member of the Western military alliance that supports Ukraine.

The sanctions, which block any assets the businesses and individuals might have in the U.S., are also aimed at hobbling the development of Russia’s energy sector, which provides war funding, including Arctic natural gas projects, along with mining and factories producing and repairing Russian weapons.

In addition, the U.S. sanctions target several Turkish and Russian companies that the State Department says help Moscow source U.S. and European electronic components — such as computer chips and processors — that can be used in civilian and military equipment.

The State Department also is targeting Turkish companies that have provided ship repair services to a company affiliated with Russia’s Defense Ministry.

Before the war, James O’Brien of the State Department’s sanctions coordination office said, Russia imported up to 90% of its electronics from countries that are part of the Group of 7 wealthy democracies. Sanctions have since dropped that figure closer to 30%, he said.

Soldiers pay their last respects at the coffin of Ukrainian serviceman Sergiy Yarmolenko, who was killed in a battle with Russian troops, during his funeral in Independence Square in Kyiv, Sept. 14, 2023.
Soldiers pay their last respects at the coffin of Ukrainian serviceman Sergiy Yarmolenko, who was killed in a battle with Russian troops, during his funeral in Independence Square in Kyiv, Sept. 14, 2023.

Fighting continues

On the battlefield, Ukraine’s military said it shot down 17 of the 22 drones that Russia used to target multiple areas of Ukraine in overnight attacks.

The Ukrainian military said Russia launched several waves of attacks directed at the Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia, Sumy and Dnipropetrovsk regions.

Serhiy Lysak, the regional governor of Dnipropetrovsk, said wreckage from one of three drones downed over the region damaged buildings and cars and started a grass fire.

Lysak said that Russian shelling also struck the region, but that no casualties were reported.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said its air defenses shot down multiple Ukrainian drones over the Bryansk region of western Russia early Thursday.

Russia also said it repelled an attack on a patrol ship in the Black Sea, with Russian forces destroying five unmanned boats.

Over Russian-controlled Crimea, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Telegram that it had destroyed 11 Ukrainian drones.

That came a day after a Ukrainian missile hit a strategic shipyard in Crimea, wounding 24 people and damaging two ships that were undergoing repairs.

Source: VOA