American Aid: Ninety Percent Of US Howitzers Pledged To Ukraine Have Been Transferred There, Defense Official Says

American Aid: Ninety Percent Of US Howitzers Pledged To Ukraine Have Been Transferred There, Defense Official Says

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20 min ago90% of US howitzers pledged to Ukraine have been transferred there, senior defense official saysFrom CNN’s Michael Conte

Nearly all of the howitzers that the US pledged to Ukraine are now “in Ukrainian hands,” according to a senior US defense official.

“I can tell you that more than 90% of the 90 howitzers that were pledged to Ukraine in the last two presidential drawdown authorities are actually in Ukrainian hands,” the official said.

Nearly 90,000 of the 144,000 pledged projectile ammunition to pair with them are now in Ukraine as well, according to the official.

But the official said that the US is not tracking where all the artillery is going once the materiel has been given to the Ukrainians.

“Again, where they go and how they’re being used, that’s up to the Ukrainians. We don’t have a bird’s eye view of every single tube and can tell you where it is in the fight,” the official said.

1 min agoBiden says US is “open to additional sanctions” on Russia after EU announces new round of sanctions (Evan Vucci/AP)After the European Union and UK announced additional sanctions on Russia, US President Joe Biden said “we are always open to additional sanctions.”

“I’ll be speaking with the members of the G7 this week about what we’re going to do or not do,” Biden told reporters at the White House while discussing the US economy.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a raft of measures, including a ban on Russian oil, on Wednesday. Other proposals include listing individuals who committed war crimes in Bucha, Ukraine; removing Russia’s largest bank Sberbank and two other companies from the SWIFT system, a messaging service that connects financial institutions around the world; and banning three Russian state-owned broadcasters from European airwaves.

The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Wednesday announced further sanctions against 63 Russian citizens and entities, including against Russian media companies “behind Putin’s vicious disinformation campaign” and their employees.

1 hr 33 min agoSwedish embassy is the latest diplomatic mission to return to KyivFrom CNN’s Katharina Krebs in London

The Swedish embassy in Ukraine has returned to Kyiv, the Ambassador of Sweden to Ukraine Tobias Thyberg announced on Twitter on Wednesday. 

“The embassy team is back where we belong: in Kyiv, supporting Ukraine and its heroic citizens as they defend the freedom of their country and freedom in Europe,” Thyberg said. Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that diplomatic missions from 27 countries were now operating again in Kyiv.

The UK, Spain, Italy and France have all announced plans to reopen. The US said its embassy in Ukraine hopes to return to Kyiv by the end of May if conditions permit.

The South Korean ambassador to Ukraine, alongside some members of staff from the embassy in Kyiv, returned to the city on Saturday and will start operations on Monday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said.

See Thyberg’s tweet:

1 hr 44 min agoRussia’s Patriarch Kirill included in sixth round of proposed EU sanctions, sources sayFrom CNN’s Luke McGee and Radina Gigova

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill celebrates the Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, on April 19, 2020. (Oleg Varov/Russian Orthodox Church Press Service/AFP/Getty Images)The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, is among the individuals who will be included in the proposed sixth round of European Union sanctions, according to two sources who have seen the full documents. 

The proposed draft has been sent to the corresponding ambassadors for review, the sources said. 

At this stage, names can be taken off or added at member state discretion, an EU Commission source said. 

On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a raft of measures that also include a ban on Russian oil. 

In an interview this week, Pope Francis slammed Kirill for endorsing Russia’s stated reasons for invading Ukraine, warning him to not become “Putin’s altar boy.”

In response, the Russian Orthodox Church said Pope Francis had used the “wrong tone” in characterizing his meeting with Patriarch Kirill and called the Pope’s comments “regrettable.”

“Such declarations do not contribute to establishing a constructive dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church which is particularly necessary at this time,” declared the Department of External Relations of the Russian Patriarchate in a statement.

What Russia is saying: The sanctions are out of touch with “common sense,” Russian Orthodox Church spokesperson Vladimir Legoida said Wednesday, according to Russian state news agency TASS. 

“The more indiscriminate [these] sanctions become, the more they lose touch with common sense and the harder it becomes to reach peace, which is what the Russian Orthodox Church prays for at every service with the blessing of His Holiness the Patriarch, and assistance to all those affected by the Ukrainian conflict, only serve to affirm his words,” Legoida said in a Telegram post. 

“Only those completely ignorant of the history of our Church can seek to intimidate its clergy and believers by compiling some lists,” Legoida said. 

2 hr 36 min agoBelarusian army begins previously unannounced inspection of its Reaction ForceFrom CNN’s Katharina Krebs in London

The Belarusian army has begun a previously unannounced inspection of its Reaction Force, planning movement of a significant amount of military equipment, according to a statement published by Belarusian Ministry of Defense on its Telegram channel Wednesday.

“A surprise inspection of the Reaction Force has begun in the Armed Forces of Belarus, during which military units and subunits will have to work on the issues of getting ready, marching to designated areas and performing combat training tasks,” the statement read.The defense department noted that “the purpose of the inspection is to assess the readiness and ability of personnel to quickly respond to a possible crisis situation.”

According to the statement, “military units and subunits will operate in unfamiliar areas in a rapidly changing environment.”

The threat of missile strikes on military and civilian infrastructure of Ukraine from the territory of the Republic of Belarus remains real, said Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, the spokesperson of Ukraine’s defense ministry, on Wednesday.

“The Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus are strengthening certain units at the Belarusian-Ukrainian border in Brest and Gomel regions. Demonstrative and provocative actions along the state border with Ukraine are not ruled out in the future,” he added.

According to him, the threat from Belarus has never ceased. 

“As you know, today the Russian army is using the territory of the Republic of Belarus as a springboard for the attack on Ukraine. In fact, due to this, Russian units were able to appear in the suburbs of the capital so quickly,” emphasized Motuzyanyk.

2 hr 49 min agoUK announces more Russia sanctions and targets media outlets over “disinformation”From CNN’s Benjamin Brown in London

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss at Downing Street for a cabinet meeting on April 19 in London, England. (Mark Thomas/Shutterstock)The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has announced further sanctions against 63 Russian citizens and entities, including against Russian media companies “behind Putin’s vicious disinformation campaign” and their employees.

Russian war corre

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