Ammunition, weapons and equipment for Ukraine – the United States is putting together the largest package of military aid to date for the country attacked by Russia for one billion US dollars (around 980 million euros). It is intended to cover the critical security needs in the defense of Ukraine, as US President Joe Biden said in Washington on Monday (local time).
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for an international travel ban for all Russians. This threat is intended to prevent Russia from annexing occupied Ukrainian territories.
For Ukraine, Tuesday marks the 167th day since the start of the Russian invasion. The country and the international community are concerned about the situation at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. The largest nuclear power plant in Europe has been occupied by Russian troops and has been fired at several times in the past few days. The warring parties blame each other. Zelenskyy accused Russia of “nuclear terrorism”.
There is still no evidence of released radioactivity, as the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) announced. The White House in Washington made a similar statement. But the fear of possible damage is growing. UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned: “Any attack on a nuclear power plant is a suicidal affair.” Ukraine is demanding that a mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visit the power plant as a matter of urgency.
“The most important sanctions are to close the borders, because the Russians are taking their land away from others,” Zelenskyy told the US newspaper “Washington Post” on Monday. Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy”. He was reacting to the occupation authorities’ announcement in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhia that they would hold a referendum on joining Russia. Similar plans exist for the occupied territory of Kherson.
Zelenskyj’s statements come up against a growing discussion in the EU to make it more difficult or to stop issuing tourist visas to Russians. Even if travel is made more difficult by the cut flight and rail connections, many Russians traveled to the EU in the summer despite the war.
Russia’s neighbor Latvia in the Baltic States has already tightened visa regulations. Finland is considering this, but demands a solution for the whole Schengen area. It is not fair that Russia is waging a brutal war, but Russians can visit Europe as tourists as normal, said Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
According to the Pentagon, the new US armaments package for Kyiv includes additional ammunition for the Himars and Nasams rocket launcher systems and 1,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles. There are also 50 armored medical treatment vehicles and medical material, including first aid kits, bandages and monitors. The equipment is to be given directly to Ukraine exclusively from the stocks of the Ministry of Defense.
Overall, since President Biden took office a good year and a half ago, the United States has pledged weapons and equipment worth around $9.8 billion to Ukraine with the new package, according to the information. The United States is also making $4.5 billion available for current Ukrainian government spending, according to the US Agency for International Development.
The US Department of Defense estimates that between 70,000 and 80,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or injured in the Ukraine war. That’s what Pentagon top official Colin Kahl said. There is no current information from the official bodies in Russia on the number of victims.
Kahl further said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had not achieved any of his goals. “His overarching goal was to overrun the entire country, bring about regime change in Kyiv, and wipe out Ukraine as an independent, sovereign, and democratic nation. None of that happened.”
Several foreign ships with grain on board have been able to leave Ukrainian Black Sea ports in the past few days. However, the first freighter, named “Razoni”, was diverted from the destination port of Tripoli in Lebanon to Turkey and was anchored off the Turkish coast early Tuesday morning, according to the Marine Traffic information service.
In Lebanon, the customer did not want to accept the corn freight that had been delayed since the outbreak of war, Ukrainian media reported, citing diplomats.
Federal Development Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) warned against too much euphoria after the first transports. “Grain prices have fallen slightly, but are still at a high level,” she told the Düsseldorf “Rheinische Post” and the Bonn “General-Anzeiger”.
But one cannot be sure whether Putin will “continue to use grain as a weapon,” Schulze continued. The war had blocked Ukrainian ports since February. In July, the UN and Turkey brokered an agreement on safe exports of the important producer.