Saturday, February 3, 2024

EU Leaders Agree to $54B UKR Aid Package; UKR Strikes RU Targets in Crimea 'methodologically and regularly'; What US-Supplied GLSDB Could Mean for the War in UKR; UKR and RU Clashed 58 Times Today; UKR Kills 1,000 RUs, Destroys 33 Art Sys; 16 Arm Combat Vehicles-1 Day, LIVE UPDATES and MORE

Photo: Gleb Garanich/Reuters
WSJ: EU Leaders Agree to $54 Billion Ukraine Aid Package as Hungary’s Orban Backs Down:
European Union leaders agreed to a $54 billion budget-aid package for Ukraine on Thursday, locking in their financing for Kyiv for the next four years and overcoming weeks of opposition from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The decision is a major boost for Ukraine, which could have started to run short of funds in coming weeks to pay for salaries, pensions and other basic services. However, Ukraine is relying on still-blocked U.S. assistance to cover its full budget gap for 2024 and maintain military supplies.
EU leaders agreed the aid package—a mix of long-term loans and grants—within minutes on Thursday after negotiations between Orban and several other EU leaders ahead of the summit. Orban had blocked the aid package at a December meeting.
Under the terms of the deal, the Ukraine aid package could be reviewed in two years to examine whether the assistance is still necessary. However, Hungary didn’t win the veto which would have given it the power to stop the assistance at that point.
“Continued EU financial support for Ukraine will strengthen long-term economic and financial stability, which is no less important than military assistance and sanctions pressure on Russia,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on social-media platform X after the decision.
The agreement comes against the backdrop of concern in European capitals that Russian success in Ukraine could directly imperil the continent’s security. The Biden administration is still facing opposition to its planned $60 billion aid package for Ukraine, which is being blocked by Republicans in Congress.
For now, Russia’s gains in Ukraine have been minimal, despite the lack of fresh Western assistance. But with Russia expanding its defense industry and increasing spending on the war, Ukraine faces a widening gap in critical weaponry such as ammunition, leading to warnings that Kyiv’s war-weary forces could be forced to retreat in coming months.
Since the start of the year, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has warned that Russia could attack North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries within five years if it isn’t defeated in Ukraine, while his British counterpart, Grant Shapps, warned Europe was entering a new “prewar” period.
French President Emmanuel Macron, in a speech to his armed forces on Jan. 19, said Ukraine’s allies must ensure that Russia can’t win in Ukraine.
“A Russian victory would mean the end of European security,” he said.
Ahead of the summit, European diplomats said the bloc was considering different options to compel Orban to support the aid package. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on his way into the summit Thursday morning that patience was running thin with the Hungarian leader. ---> READ MORE HERE (or HERE)
Crimean Wind/Telegram
Air Force: Ukraine strikes Russian targets in Crimea 'methodologically and regularly':
Ukraine has certain "tools" at its disposal that means it can strike Russian military targets occupying Crimea "methodologically and regularly," Yurii Ihnat, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Air Force, said in an interview with Radio Svoboda on Feb. 1.
Videos emerged on local Telegram channels on Jan. 31 showing a series of explosions in Russian-occupied Crimea. Air Force Commander General Mykola Oleshchuk confirmed that Balbek airfield, located a few kilometers north of Sevastopol, was hit in the attack.
While he could not yet confirm whether any aircraft had been destroyed, Ihnat said that fighter jets, such as the MiG-29 and Su-30, are usually based at Balbek.
Ukrainska Pravda reported that the attack on the airbase was carried out using Scalp/Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles, citing a source in the military.
"Ukrainian aviators will definitely return home to their native airfield," Oleshchuk said on Jan. 31, referring to Ukraine's 204th Sevastopol Tactical Aviation Brigade, which was based at the Balbek airfield before Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014.
"I also spent a lot of time at this airfield when I was a military journalist," Ihnat told Radio Svoboda.
All members of the brigade, which is now based in Lutsk Oblast in northwestern Ukraine, "want to return precisely to their base near Sevastopol, where they belong," Ihnat said, adding that Balbek is "one of the main airfields on the peninsula." --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to +++++relevant+++++ and related stories:

+++++Russia-Ukraine News LATEST UPDATES: (REUTERS) (AP) (NY POST) and (WSJ)+++++

+++++What the U.S.-Supplied GLSDB Could Mean for the War in Ukraine+++++

+++++Ukrainian and Russian forces clashed 58 times today, with Russian forces assaulting on Avdiivka front – General Staff report+++++

+++++Ukraine's Armed Forces kill 1,000 Russian soldiers, destroy 33 artillery systems and 16 armoured combat vehicles in one day+++++

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