The US Is Now Propping Up Tiny Moldova’s Energy Sector Too

This week US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the US is prepping more aid to the Ukrainian government, particularly focusing on propping up its devastated energy infrastructure, but also for the first time unveiling that the tiny country of Moldova will be receiving significant aid for its failing energy grid.

“We know that standing up for Ukraine means accepting difficult costs, particularly for our European allies, but the cost of inaction would be far higher,” Blinken began in Wednesday comments. “Caving to Russia’s aggression, accepting its brazen attempts to redraw borders by force, to tear up the rulebook that has made all of us more secure – that would have repercussions not only in Europe but quite literally around the world.”

That’s when he announced decisions made at a NATO meeting of ministers in Romania: “When we convened that group yesterday here in Bucharest, I announced that the United States will commit over $53 million to send equipment to help stabilize Ukraine’s energy grid and keep Ukraine’s power and electricity running.”

He specified $1.1 billion going to both Ukraine and Moldova:

We’ve also submitted a request to Congress for $1.1 billion to secure Ukraine and Moldova’s energy sector and restore their energy supply.  And we will take strong, coordinated action to ensure that President Putin cannot hold the rest of the world hostage to weaponized energy.

Starting last month, Moldovan authorities began informing Western allies it is suffering “massive” blackouts in relations to stepped of Russian airstrikes in neighboring Ukraine.

Keep reading

‘Bye-bye, Kiev, Hello Cote d’Azur’ – How Ukraine’s Elites Are Profiting from Western Aid

Since the beginning of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine, the US, EU, and their allies have provided Kiev with $126 billion worth of aid, a number almost equal to the country’s entire GDP. Moreover, millions of Ukrainians have found refuge in the EU, where they were given housing, food, work permits, and emotional support. The scope is huge, even by Western standards. Considering that the bloc has been funding Kiev while coping with an economic and energy crisis of its own, the assistance is perhaps especially notable. 

Kiev bases its endless funding requests on the collapse of its economy, due to the war, and its need to “resist Russian aggression.” But is the aid reaching its intended destination?

The Monaco Battalion

While Ukraine has undergone a general mobilization affecting all men under the age of 60, many former and current high-ranking officials, politicians, businessmen, and oligarchs have moved to safety abroad – mainly to the EU.

The mass flight of Ukrainian elites started even prior to the armed conflict. On February 14, 2022, 37 deputies from the Ukrainian president’s parliamentary faction (Servant of the People) suddenly went missing. Had MPs not been banned from leaving the country the very next day, others would have definitely joined them. Meanwhile, former officials and oligarchs enjoyed more freedom to move around. According to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, 20 business jets took off from Kiev’s Boryspol airport on the 14th as well.

Tycoons were at the front of the line. Entrepreneur and MP Vadim Novinsky, businessmen Vasily Khmelnitsky and Vadim Stolar, Vadim Nesterenko, and Andrey Stavnitzer all left the country on charter flights. Millionaire politician Igor Abramovich booked a private flight to Austria for 50 people – taking relatives, business partners, and fellow party members aboard. Oligarchs flew from Kiev to Nice, Munich, Vienna,  Cyprus, and other EU destinations. Another group of businessmen took off from Odessa on private planes. The owner of Vostok Bank departed for Israel, while the head of the Transship group flew to Limassol. An ex-governor of the Odessa region, Stalkanat’s Vladimir Nemirovsky, also left the country.

In the summer and early fall of 2022, Ukrainska Pravda prepared several investigative documentaries about fit-for-service Ukrainian billionaires and officials spotted vacationing on the Côte d’Azur during the war. A movie with the ironic title ‘The Monaco Battalion’ shows Ukrainian oligarchs resting at their villas, mansions, and on yachts. In the first part, we see businessman Konstantin Zhevago, who is included on Interpol’s wanted list, relaxing on his private yacht worth $70 million. The yacht graces the shoreline of the Côte d’Azur as Zhevago’s family disembarks. Kharkov entrepreneur Alexander Yaroslavsky, who promised to sell his yacht and transfer the funds towards the restoration of Kharkov, can be seen sailing alongside.

Ukrainska Pravda journalists also got a glimpse of the Surkis brothers in France, who are currently renting apartments worth €2 million per year. Meanwhile, a $300,000 Bentley belonging to Ukrainian businessman Vadim Ermolaev was spotted near the casino in Monaco, and Eduard Kohan, the co-founder of Euroenergotrade, was seen at one of Monte Carlo’s chic hotels.

A whole colony of Ukrainian oligarchs has apparently taken up residence in the elite French commune of Cap-Ferrat. Land developer Vadim Solar, oligarchs Dmitry Firtash, Vitaly Khomutynnik, and Sergey Lovochkin are among those enjoying high life in the middle of the war. The Cap-Ferrat villa once belonging to King Leopold II of Belgium was bought by the richest Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. His neighbors are Alexander Davtyan, president of the Investment Group DAD LLC, and Vladislav Gelzin, a former deputy of the Donetsk Regional Council.

Keep reading

Why the US & Israel are preventing aid from reaching one of the poorest countries in the Middle East

Despite the recent signing of a historic maritime border agreement, tensions continue to remain high, with both Israel and the United States attempting to force Lebanon into compliance with their regional agenda.

Although Israeli and Lebanese leaders signed letters of intent earlier this month ending their long-standing maritime border dispute and averting a major escalation in their ongoing conflict, the two sides still remain technically at war. Beirut refuses to recognise the Israeli state, maintaining the stance that first the Palestine issue must be resolved, as Israel maintains control over the Shebaa Farms area which Lebanon claims to be its territory.

Last week, drone strikes were reported to have killed up to 25 people after targeting a fuel aid convoy that had just passed the Al-Qaim crossing into Syria from Iraq. There are conflicting reports on who actually carried out the attack, with both Israel and the United States accused of having been behind it. The US military instantly distanced themselves from the incident, by denying they had carried out any strikes, whilst the Israeli government refused to comment and is now widely assumed to be culpable. According to Iraqi authorities, the fuel trucks, numbering 22 according to Iranian state-media, were approved for heading out of the country and seemed to be part of Iran’s new agreement with Lebanon to provide free fuel.

Keep reading

White House Announces Massive $10 Billion Aid Package for Jordan

The Joe Biden administration rolled out a new assistance agreement with Jordan. Washington will send Amman $10.15 billion over the next seven years. The new deal will make Jordan the third largest recipient of American aid, following only Ukraine and Israel.

The White House signed the new memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Friday. The Biden administration first discussed the new agreement with Jordan on the sidelines of the Jeddah summit in July. The MOU is the largest aid package the US has ever signed with Amman.

Jordanian officials celebrated the aid, and claimed it was essential. “It’s an extremely important MOU. It speaks to the strong friendship the two countries have,” foreign minister Ayman Safadi said. He added, “The US has gone above and beyond for Jordan.”

The State Department stressed Amman’s strategic importance to America’s foreign policy goals in the Middle East. “The MOU represents a major commitment to Jordan’s stability and the durability of the strategic partnership,” the press release said.

While the US sees Jordan as an important partner in the Middle East, Washington and Amman do not see eye-to-eye on Syria policy. Jordan recently endorsed the Russian presence in Syria as “stabilizing.” Some of the aid will help Amman manage the 1.3 million Syrian refugees. The reconstruction of Syria is currently being stifled by American sanctions.

Keep reading

Blinken In Surprise Visit To Kyiv Unveils $2BN More Aid Amid ‘Successful’ Counteroffensive

“In meetings with senior Ukrainian officials, Blinken said the Biden administration had notified Congress of its intent to provide $2 billion in long-term Foreign Military Financing to Ukraine and 18 of its neighbors, including NATO members and regional security partners,” the Associated Press writes.

The nearby countries “at risk” from Russian aggression were listed by the State Dept as follows: 

Pending expected congressional approval, about $1 billion of that will go to Ukraine and the rest will be divided among Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, the State Department said.

Earlier in the day, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced a freshly approved military assistance package to Ukraine of of $675 million

This brings US aid to Ukraine to $14+ billion, given that at the end of last month the Pentagon issued a statement saying security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021 has totaled $13.5 billion. At the end of August, the Pentagon reported that since January 2021, the United States has provided Ukraine with more than $13.5Bln in security assistance. Some reports are currently tallying the total at $15.2BN.

Keep reading

Joe Biden Requesting $13.7 Billion More in Aid to Ukraine as $40 Billion Package Running Dry

President Joe Biden wants to spend $13.7 billion more in aid to Ukraine as his massive slush fund already approved by Congress earlier this year is running dry.

Biden’s request to Congress is part of an overall $47.1 billion emergency spending package of more funds to fight the coronavirus and monkeypox, according to the Associated Press, citing anonymous sources.

Biden has spent roughly three-quarters of the $40 billion approved by Congress in May, officials told the Associated Press, and he wants to spend $13.7 billion more.

The additional funds would not only fund equipment and intelligence support but “direct budgetary support for Ukraine,” the report notes.

Using the existing $40 billion, Biden continues announcing multi-billion dollar packages to fund weapons and ammo, surface-to-air missile systems, counter-drone technology, and drones.

Keep reading

U.S. aims to arm Ukraine with advanced anti-ship missiles to fight Russian blockade

The White House is working to put advanced anti-ship missiles in the hands of Ukrainian fighters to help defeat Russia’s naval blockade, officials said, amid concerns more powerful weapons that could sink Russian warships would intensify the conflict.

Ukraine has made no secret it wants more advanced U.S. capabilities beyond its current inventory of artillery, Javelin and Stinger missiles, and other arms. Kyiv’s list, for example, includes missiles that could push the Russian navy away from its Black Sea ports, allowing the restart of shipments of grain and other agricultural products worldwide.

Current and former U.S. officials and congressional sources have cited roadblocks to sending longer range, more powerful weapons to Ukraine that include lengthy training requirements, difficulties maintaining equipment, or concerns U.S. weaponry could be captured by Russian forces, in addition to the fear of escalation. read more

But three U.S. officials and two congressional sources said two types of powerful anti-ship missiles, the Harpoon made by Boeing (BA.N) and the Naval Strike Missile made by Kongsberg (KOG.OL) and Raytheon Technologies (RTX.N) were in active consideration for either direct shipment to Ukraine, or through a transfer from a European ally that has the missiles.

In April, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appealed to Portugal to provide the Ukrainian military with Harpoons, which have a range of up to almost 300 km.

Keep reading