Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell at the US Capitol, Washington, D.C., February 5, 2024 (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1043 GMT:
Boris Nadezhdin, who was hoping to campaign on a platform calling for an end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has officially withdrawn his candidacy.
The Central Election Commission refused to register Nadezhdin, a former economic liberal and then nationalist politician, as a candidate on the pretext that many of the signatures on his petition were invalid.
Nadezhdin had surprised and unsettled the Kremlin by gathering more than 200,000 signatures and attracting international attention.
In late December, the Commission also barred another anti-invasion candidate, former TV journalist Yekaterina Duntsova, after she had a groundswell of support.
UPDATE 1013 GMT:
Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk has sharply rebuked US Republican legislators blocking aid to Ukraine.
Dear Republican Senators of America. Ronald Reagan, who helped millions of us to win back our freedom and independence, must be turning in his grave today. Shame on you.
— Donald Tusk (@donaldtusk) February 8, 2024
UPDATE 0829 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy hosted European Union foreign policy head Josep Borrell in Kyiv on Wednesday for talks on munitions, drones, and air defense.
Borrell also referred to Kyiv’s candidacy for EU membership: “Ukraine has shown remarkable commitment to reform efforts and will soon start accession negotiations. We will continue working hand-in-hand to make it happen.”
Honoured to be received again by President @ZelenskyyUa.
He asked for additional ammunition, drones and air defence systems.
Mobilising additional EU military equipment for #Ukraine is my top priority.
We must do more and we must do it faster. pic.twitter.com/NY2Loo4zD5
— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) February 7, 2024
Alongside Ukraine Prime Minister Dmytro Shmyhal, Borrell said that EU expects to provide Ukraine with 1,155,000 artillery rounds by the end of 2024.
The EU had set a target of 1 million shells by March, but is expected to deliver only 520,000.
UPDATE 0815 GMT:
Ukraine’s air defenses downed 11 of 17 Iran-made attack drones fired by Russia overnight.
The UAVs were intercepted over the Mykolaiv, Odesa, Vinnytsia, and Dnipropetrovsk regions.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Senate Republicans have blocked a bill with authorization of $60.1 billion in aid for Ukraine’s resistance of the 23 1/2-month Russian invasion.
To advance the measure, the upper chamber’s 50 Democrats needed the support of 10 Republicans in a procedural measure to advance the legislation. But only 58 Senators voted Yes.
Supporters of Ukraine then introduced a separate package only funding measures for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and the Asia-Pacific region.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said:
We will recess until tomorrow and give our Republican colleagues the night to figure themselves out. We’ll be coming back tomorrow at noon, and hopefully that will give the Republicans the time they need. We will have this vote tomorrow.
The initial legislation’s provisions for Ukraine included $19.85 billion for replenishing weapons and equipment from the Department of Defense inventory; $13.8 billion for the purchase of weapons and munitions for Ukraine from US manufacturers; $14.8 billion for military training, intelligence sharing, and other support activities; and $1.6 billion in foreign military financing.
There was $7.85 billion of direct budget support and $1.58 billion to support self-reliance in the Ukrainian economy, and allocations of $300 million for the rule of law and border protection and $100 million for demining, counter-terrorism, and non-proliferation programs.
The $118 billion bill also contained $14.1 billion for Israel, $10 billion for civilians affected by violence in Ukraine, Gaza, and the West Bank and — in a compromise with Republicans demanding strict measures for the US-Mexico border — about $20 billion for new enforcement measures.
Bill’s Demise: “A Simple Reason — Donald Trump”
A faction in the House, made up of Trumpists and other hard-right representatives, initially blocked $60.6 billion for Ukraine and the assistance for other US allies last October. They demanded that assistance to Kyiv be linked to draconian measures against migrants and asylum-seekers.
However, as the Senate negotiators neared their compromise, the faction rejected any bill and declared it would be “dead on arrival” in the House.
Sen. Schumer summarized on Wednesday, “Republicans have said they can’t pass Ukraine without border. Now they say they can’t pass Ukraine with border.”
Anticipating the retreat of Senate Republicans in a speech on Tuesday, President Joe Biden pointed to GOP legislators who have said they will not approve any bill — irrespective of the provisions — before November’s elections:
All indications are this bill won’t even move forward to the Senate floor. Why? A simple reason: Donald Trump. Because Donald Trump thinks it’s bad for him politically….He’d rather weaponize this issue than actually solve it.
Every day between now and November, the American people are going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends.
on Wednesday, Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, one of three senators who crafted the compromise, said it had become impossible to counter misinformation spread by Trump supporters.
He recounted being told by one Trumpist media personality, “If you try to move a bill that solves the border crisis during this presidential year, I will do whatever I can to destroy you.”
Lankford added, “They have been faithful to their promise and done everything they can to destroy me in the past several weeks.”
European countries have stepped up their military support to Kyiv, as Russia continues its daily missile and drone strikes and tries to capture territory in eastern Ukraine.
But, with the Ukrainians facing a critical shortage of artillery shells, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday that Germany is not big enough to make up the difference if the US fails to deliver weapons.
Scholz, soon to visit Washington, said, “That is, I believe, the real danger we currently face.”