More planes, more ammo, more money flowing to Ukraine

It’s been a while since President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had a chance to talk face-to-face. Their last get-together was when Zelenskyy came to the United States in December last year to press Republicans in Congress to stop blocking military assistance to Ukraine. 

The difference between that visit and Zelenskyy’s appearance before a joint session of Congress in 2022 was a shocking demonstration of how many Republicans had moved to support Russia instead. Another four months would pass before Biden was able to make a deal to bring Ukraine assistance in front of the House and start the arms pipeline moving again.

On Friday, Biden and Zelenskyy met in Paris, where both participated in ceremonies connected to the 80th anniversary of D-Day and the allied liberation of Europe. Thankfully, they met with American arms once again on their way to Ukraine, and Biden ready to announce a new $225 million package of ammunition, artillery rounds, and new HIMARS rockets.

However, the crucial meeting may come a week from now when Biden and Zelenskyy will be together again at the G7. That’s when European nations may decide to open the way for Ukraine to access $50 billion dollars in frozen Russian assets.

Under the proposed scheme, Russian money wouldn’t just be shifted directly into Ukrainian accounts. Because, somehow, European governments find seizing Russia’s frozen assets to be “legally risky.” 

Something about dozens of nations sweating over the legality of grabbing money left in their banks by a government involved in an illegal, unprovoked military invasion of a neighbor seems all too defining of the state of the world. Russia spent the week lobbing missiles into civilian areas, plunging large areas of Ukraine into darkness with a systematic attack on energy infrastructure. 

And still, no one feels like they can touch the money.

The current G7 proposal involved only the profits from seized Russian assets because the profits are apparently less of a legal concern. The European Union would slide these profits into a special fund that Ukraine could use for both weapons and for post-war reconstruction. And, if things go well at the G7, those profits will also be used to back a proposed $50 billion loan that Ukraine could use to fund both military and civilian needs. Further profits from Russian assets would also be used to service the loan, so Ukraine wouldn’t be on the hook for every dollar.

All of this would go a long way to allowing Ukraine to deal with its needs for ammo and basic supplies even if Speaker of the House Mike Johnson decides to go on another six-month vacation from decency.

A quick glance at the maps shows that Russia has little, if any, Ukrainian territory over the last week.

West of Bakhmut, where Russia has been trying to capture the strategic high ground at Chasiv Yar, Ukrainian forces managed to retake the area around the intersection at Kalynivka. Other Russian attacks in this area appear to have been ineffective.

On Friday evening, Russian forces claimed to have captured a portion of Chasiv Yar. However, videos supposedly supporting this claim appear to show another location.

Bakhmut Area

North of Kharkiv, the major activity has been around the town of Vovchansk. In the early part of the invasion, Russia used Vovchansk as a major distribution center and its position as both a highway nexus and a rail hub means that control of Vovchansk could be critical to control of the eastern portion of Kharkiv Oblast.

In September 2022, Ukraine liberated Vovchansk as part of the Kharkiv counteroffensive. They drove Russia from the town and raised the Ukrainian flag without breaking out heavy artillery or causing widespread damage.

But Russia’s return to the town has left Vovchansk a ruin; It’s a smaller version of the destruction seen in Bakhmut or Severodonetsk.

Vovchansk Area

This week, Ukrainian forces drove hard into the Russian occupiers in the northern part of the town, making Vovchansk, for a few days at least, the burning heart of the war. From the map prepared by analyst Andrew Perpetua, it’s unclear that Ukraine has pushed Russia out of any significant area. But the daily tallies, and reports from soldiers, show Russia has had  heavy losses in the area.

The Ukrainian general staff reports that Russian forces continue to probe at other locations in the area north of Kharkiv city, but all attempts to advance have been successfully repulsed by Ukrainian forces.

French President Emmanuel Macron wasn’t without his own announcement.

During the D-Day commemorations in Normandy on June 6, French President Emmanuel Macron declared that Paris would give Kyiv an unspecified number of Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets alongside the required training.

The skies over Ukraine are going to be very interesting in the coming months. 


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