US to release $800 million in additional security assistance for Ukraine

Turkish President Erdogan and UN chief António Guterres are meeting Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy in a high-stakes bid to reduce the Ukraine conflict which has entered its 176th day.

President Biden will use the Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows the President to authorize the transfer of excess weapons from US stockpiles (AP)

Thursday, August 18, 2022

US to release $800 million in additional security assistance for Ukraine

President Joe Biden’s administration is preparing about $800 million in additional military aid to Ukraine and could announce it as early as Friday, three sources familiar with the matter said.

Biden would authorize the assistance using his Presidential Withdrawal Authority, which allows the president to authorize the transfer of excess weapons from U.S. stockpiles, the sources told Reuters news agency.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said an announcement could slip in next week, warning that the value of weapons packages may change before they are announced. The White House declined to comment.

A burnt Russian ammunition depot near the Ukrainian border

Two Russian villages have been evacuated after a fire broke out at an ammunition depot near the border with Ukraine, local authorities said.

“An ammunition depot caught fire near the village of Timonovo”, less than 50 kilometers from the Ukrainian border in Belgorod province, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a statement.

No casualties were reported, but residents of Timonovo and the nearby village of Soloti were “moved to a safe distance”, he said, adding that authorities were investigating the cause of the fire.

Video posted on social media showed a huge fireball releasing a thick column of black smoke. Another video showed several explosions in rapid succession in the distance.

Russia deems UN proposal to demilitarize nuclear power plant ‘unacceptable’

The Russian Foreign Ministry has rejected a proposal by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to demilitarize the area around Russia’s nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, southern Ukraine.

At a press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ivan Nechaev said the proposals were “unacceptable”.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was captured by Russia in March, shortly after sending tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine in what it calls a “special military operation”.

Turkey, Ukraine and the UN discuss ways to end the conflict in Ukraine

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he discussed possible ways to end the conflict between Ukraine and Russia during a trilateral meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy and UN chief Antonio Guterres.

Speaking after the meeting in Lviv, Ukraine, Erdogan said they discussed using the positive atmosphere created by a Türkiye-brokered grain export deal to establish lasting peace.

He also said that they had discussed the exchange of prisoners of war between Ukraine and Russia and that he would later raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Zelensky rules out ‘peace’ with Russia without troop withdrawal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has ruled out peace with Russia unless it withdraws its troops from Ukraine, speaking after talks with his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

“They have to leave our territory first and then we will see,” Zelensky told reporters.

Russia says the use of nuclear weapons is only possible in an emergency

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow would use its nuclear arsenal only in “emergency” and that it had no interest in a direct confrontation with NATO and the United States.

Russia’s defense minister said on Tuesday that Moscow had ‘no need’ to use nuclear weapons in its military campaign in Ukraine, calling media speculation that Moscow might deploy nuclear weapons ‘absolute lies’ or chemicals in the conflict.

Speaking at a briefing on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ivan Nechaev said nuclear weapons would be used only as a “response” measure.

Russian tourists banned from entering Estonia

The visa ban imposed on Russian tourists by Estonia has entered into force, according to local media.

Russian nationals holding Schengen visas issued by Estonia for tourism, business, sports or cultural purposes will not be allowed to cross the Baltic country’s border, public broadcaster ERR reported.

Russians whose visa was issued by another member of the Schengen area or who were already in the Schengen area will still be able to enter the country, which shares a border with Russia, the report adds. A few exceptions to the measure were made.

Russia says 3 MiG fighter jets moved to Kaliningrad region

Russia’s Defense Ministry said three MiG-31E fighter jets equipped with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles had been moved to its Kaliningrad region, Interfax reported.

Russia’s state-run RIA news agency quoted the ministry as saying the MiG planes would be in service around the clock.

Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic coast between NATO and European Union members Poland and Lithuania, has become a flashpoint after Lithuania decided to limit the transit of goods to the region via its territory, with Russia promising retaliation.

Russian planes suspected of violating Finnish airspace: Defense Ministry

Two Russian MiG-31 fighter jets have been suspected of violating Finnish airspace near the coastal town of Porvoo on the Gulf of Finland, the Finnish Defense Ministry has announced.

The alleged breach happened at 06:40 GMT and the planes were heading west, communications chief Kristian Vakkuri said, adding the plane was in Finnish airspace for two minutes.

“The depth of the alleged violation in Finnish airspace was one kilometer,” he said, but did not say whether the planes had been escorted.

Over 622,000 tonnes of shipments transported through the Ukrainian Grain Corridor

More than 622,000 tonnes of grain have been shipped from Ukrainian ports since August 1 under a recent grain export deal signed between Turkey, the UN, Russia and Ukraine.

A total of 43 ships sailed for grain shipments, according to the Türkiye National Defense Ministry.

The ministry said on Twitter that 25 of them departed from Ukrainian ports and 18 went to Ukrainian ports for the shipment of grain.

One dead and a dozen injured in the bombing of Kharkiv in Ukraine

One person died and 18 others were injured in the pre-dawn shelling of a residential area in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Oleh Synehubov, the regional governor said.

“At the moment there are 18 injured, including two children, one person has died,” Synehubov wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

A day earlier, six people died and 16 others were injured in a Russian rocket attack on the city.

Another grain ship leaves the Ukrainian port: Türkiye

Another vessel left a Ukrainian port under Istanbul’s grain export deal, Turkey’s National Defense Ministry said.

A Belize-flagged ship carrying corn has left the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk, the ministry said on Twitter.

He added that four ships will go to Ukraine for grain exports. Turkey, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement last month to resume grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports of Yuzhny, Chornomorsk and Odessa, which were halted due to the Russian war. -Ukrainian, which is now in its sixth month.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies