A Ukrainian commander had Russian troops in his sights but couldn’t attack. He says a US rule is to blame.

“A Ukrainian commander operating near the Russian border described how his unit watched as Russia amassed a huge force but had to wait for the troops to cross the border to hit them.
“There were a lot of Russians gathering, and we could have destroyed them on the way in, but we don’t have many ATACMS, and we have a ban on using them over there,” he told The Times of London.

Drago, a special forces commander with Ukraine’s Kraken detachment, was redeployed, along with his unit and other special forces troops, in April from the eastern Donbas region to Kharkiv to strengthen Ukraine’s forces there, per the Times.

But instead of hitting the Russians, he and his unit were forced to watch as the troops gathered on their side of the border, according to the outlet.

“We had to wait for them to cross,” he said, referring to a US policy that bans Ukrainian forces from using US-supplied weapons to strike targets inside Russia.”


Ukraine reports no artillery shortages for first time in war, says Zelenskyy

“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said earlier this week that Ukraine’s forces had reported no shortages of artillery shells for the first time since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022, the Kyiv Independent reported.
“For the first time during the war, none of the brigades complained that there were no artillery shells,” Zelenskyy said on May 16.

According to reports, the refreshed artillery is now helping to blunt Russian advances around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city.

In sharp contrast to battles in January-April, during which the US halted all military assistance to Ukraine, Ukrainian soldier and milblogger Stanislav Osman, author of the popular Hovoryat Snaiper channel, observed that Russian forces attacking in the Kharkiv sector have been facing punishing artillery fire and even attack helicopter strikes, The Kyiv Post reported.”

“Despite this, Russian artillery will likely outmatch Ukraine’s for most of 2024, officials and analysts told Foreign Policy.”


Johnson Needs Democrats on Ukraine, Handing Them Power to Shape Aid Plan

“For more than two decades, the “rule,” a bit of congressional arcana that few who work outside of Capitol Hill ever pay attention to, was treated as a foregone conclusion and a straight party-line vote. Even if lawmakers planned to break with the party on a bill, they would stay in line on the rule to bring it up, voting “yes” if they were in the majority and “no” for the minority.
But that quaint tradition has fallen by the wayside during this Congress, as rebellious House Republicans have routinely tanked rule votes to exert their leverage and win concessions in a slim majority where they hold outsize power.

“It’s the only tool they have in the toolbox,” said Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn. “It’s legal; it’s in the rules.”

When the procedural resistance of the hard right has threatened to scuttle legislation that Democrats consider existential — a bill to defuse the threat of catastrophic debt default, for one, or one to arm a democratic ally facing an invading dictator — they, too, have shown a willingness to break with convention on the rule.

Last year, 52 Democrats voted in favor of the rule to bring up the debt ceiling bill negotiated by the speaker at the time, Kevin McCarthy, and President Joe Biden, helping the hamstrung GOP leader push through the measure. In the end, 29 Republicans voted against the rule.

Far-right Republicans have been enraged by the results. After McCarthy struck the debt deal, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said, “We’re going to force him into a monogamous relationship with one or the other,” referring to his cohort of right-wing Republicans or Democrats. “What we’re not going to do is hang out with him for five months and then watch him go jump in the back seat with Hakeem Jeffries and sell the nation out.”

Ultimately, McCarthy ended up in a relationship with no one; Democrats did not vote to save him when Gaetz called a snap vote to oust him and was joined by seven Republicans in voting for him to go.

Johnson is also walking a delicate line. He has to tend to the politics of his own fractured conference without alienating the Democrats whom he will need to pass the security package — and, potentially, to save his job.”


New American Military Aid for Ukraine – What’s in the package and what impact will it have?

New American Military Aid for Ukraine – What’s in the package and what impact will it have?


Biden is sending $61 billion to Ukraine. Much of it will pass through the US economy first.

“Washington is spending another $61 billion to help Ukraine. But most of the money will flow through the US economy first.
The new law will allow the Pentagon to send existing weapons — everything from bullets to missiles to tank parts — to Kyiv and then simultaneously backfill that inventory with new manufacturing efforts for US armories.

There are 117 production lines in about 71 US cities that are set to produce those weapons systems, according to research from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).”


Mitch McConnell says Tucker Carlson and Trump’s waffling delayed crucial Ukraine aid

“At a press conference, the Kentucky Republican pinpointed two men responsible for that delay: former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson and former President Donald Trump.
“The demonization of Ukraine began by Tucker Carlson, who in my opinion ended up where he should have been all along, which is interviewing Vladimir Putin,” McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters. “And so he had an enormous audience, which convinced a lot of rank and file Republicans that maybe this was a mistake.”

“I think the former president had sort of mixed views on” Ukraine aid, he added, before alluding to the failed attempt to add border security provisions to the bill, “which requires you to deal with Democrats, and then a number of our members thought it wasn’t good enough.”

“And then our nominee for president didn’t seem to want us to do anything at all,” McConnell said. “That took months to work our way through it.”

The top Senate Republican has been an ardent supporter of Ukraine aid and battled a slew of conservative voices who have sought to block it. He called the expected passage of the bill “an important day for America, and a very important day of freedom-loving countries around the world.””


How McConnell and Schumer beat hardline conservatives on Ukraine

How McConnell and Schumer beat hardline conservatives on Ukraine


More than 100 Palestinians were killed trying to get aid

“Northern Gaza is where the IDF began its initial ground invasion in October; Israel targeted Gaza City as a Hamas stronghold. Though much of the population has been displaced to southern Gaza, there are still thousands of civilians in the area, and they have not had adequate aid distribution in around two months, Jeremy Konyndyk, the president of Refugees International, told Vox.
“The biggest obstacle has simply been that the Israeli government has, for the most part, denied aid groups access to that part of the territory,” he told Vox.

The UN organization that is usually in charge of distributing aid to Palestine, UNRWA, cannot operate in the area for safety reasons. And aid workers have said they’ve found trying to work with Israel to get aid into Gaza all but impossible.

After a UNRWA and World Food Program aid convoy “coordinated with the Israelis,” according to Konyndyk, it was fired upon by Israeli troops. “There’s no confidence amongst professional humanitarians that they can actually have safe access into the north and that they won’t be targeted.”

Israel has also accused UNRWA of being in league with Hamas, and that accusation led many countries, including the US, to pause financial contributions to the organization. Aid distribution is challenging and requires significant coordination; without that, it’s easy for a situation in which people are starving and under significant duress to spiral out of control and turn violent.

Such infrastructure once existed in Gaza — via UNRWA and with the cooperation of Hamas civilian police — but that has been devastated by Israeli assaults and, in the case of UNRWA, an effort to undermine the organization.

“The best way to get humanitarian aid into Gaza is to stop the fighting,” Brian Finucane, senior adviser in the US policy program at the International Crisis Group, told Vox in an interview. “Based on reports today, in recent weeks, the breakdown of any sort of order in Gaza is even complicating that further and that Israel itself is contributing [to] that in no small part, including by targeting the police inside Gaza.”

Hagari said during the press conference that a private contractor was coordinating the aid distribution, although he did not name the contractor. Vox reached out to the IDF and to Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) for more information but did not receive a response by press time.

As part of potential ceasefire negotiations, the US is pushing for increased humanitarian access in Gaza, but so far has not backed up that rhetoric with meaningful action like pausing the flow of weapons to Israel or proposing a ceasefire resolution in the UN Security Council. So despite the concerted efforts of diplomats and humanitarian workers, Finucane said, “They don’t have much to work with if the US bottom line is unconditional support for this catastrophic conflict.””


The Ukraine Air-War in 2024 – Interviewing Professor Justin Bronk

“The Ukrainians are losing thousands of people because they don’t have enough ammunition…political game in Washington, it’s an election year…thousands of people are dying because of this.”


Russia has broken the stalemate in Ukraine: Former US Defense secretary

“The Russian military has broken the stalemate in the Ukraine war, Robert Gates, former CIA director and secretary of Defense, said Wednesday, following Moscow’s successful push to take the front-line city of Avdiivka.
“It’s no longer a stalemate. The Russians have regained momentum,” Gates told The Washington Post’s David Ignatius in a streaming interview. “Everything I’m reading is that the Russians are on the offensive along the 600-mile front.”

Russia has suffered staggering losses in the war, he noted, but with Ukraine now confronting artillery shortages due to flagging U.S. support, “the Russians are feeling that the tides have turned, and while there is much to be done, the initiative has passed to them,” Gates said.

“They have more and more supplies coming in — I’ve read that for every artillery shell fired by Ukrainian forces, the Russians fire 10,” he added.

Russian officials announced Monday that its forces finalized their capture of the key Ukrainian city of Avdiivka after taking full control of the city’s large coke plant. The costly operation marked Russia’s first major victory in months, and its most significant gain since taking nearby Bakhmut last spring.

President Biden pinned the blame for Ukraine battlefield losses directly on House Republicans, who have refused to back additional aid to Kyiv without major immigration reform.

Gates noted that European allies in NATO, “who we so often criticize,” have stepped up their support to Ukraine, but lack the ability to immediately send weapons. Production timelines will see NATO support reach the battlefield in 2025, he estimated.

Right now, “the only real military lifeline comes from the United States. And as we all know, that is, shall we say, on pause right now,” he said.

Aid to Ukraine still lingers in the House, where Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is caught between moderates who support Ukraine and far-right members who oppose it without major concessions from Democrats on the border.”