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US Prepares To Send $1 Billion In Latest Ukraine Weapons Package

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GENYA SAVILOV/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is reportedly about to send $1 billion more in US taxpayer funded aid to Ukraine, in what will be one of the largest packages so far, Reuters reports.

The aid will include munitions for long-range weapons and armored transport vehicles, according to three anonymous sources, who added that the package had not yet been signed by President Biden, and could change in value and content before it’s a done deal. As it currently stands, the assistance includes munitions for HIMARS, NASAMS surface-to-air-missile system ammunition, and up to 50 M113 armored medical transports.

As Reuters notes, the latest assistance – which could come as early as Monday – would bring the total amount given by the Biden administration to $8.8 billion (or 9 fired Ukrainian prosecutors, if one rounds up), since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The new package comes on the heels of a recent Pentagon decision to offer medical treatment to Ukrainians at a US military hospital in Germany near Ramstein air base.

It also comes on the heels of a separate security assistance package worth up to $550 million which was announced by the Pentagon last Monday, which includes additional ammo for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).

The new package would be funded under the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), in which the president can authorize the transfer of articles and services from U.S. stocks without congressional approval in response to an emergency.

HIMARS play a key role in the artillery duel between Ukraine and Russia has been described as “grinding” with very little movement of the front line in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

Since Russian troops poured over the border in February in what Putin termed a “special military operation”, the conflict has settled into a war of attrition fought primarily in the east and south of Ukraine. -Reuters

The latest round of assistance (which comes two weeks after Ukraine’s first-lady and Vogue magazine ‘Portrait of Bravery‘ Olena Zeleska asked for more weapons) should come as no surprise… after all, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently said the quiet part out loud – revealing that as long as US taxpayer funded assistance flows into Ukraine in what he considers ‘the right path,’ they can ‘fight to the last person.’

This article was originally published at Zero Hedge

World at War

Ukraine Tells People Not To Panic As WHO Warns Of ‘Life-Threatening’ Winter

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Zero Hedge

Andrii Dubchak/Donbas Frontliner via Zaborona/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in a Monday statement that the power situation in Ukraine is so dire that it will potentially be “life-threatening” for millions of Ukrainians due to the recent devastating series of Russian air attacks on the national energy grid.

“Put simply – this winter will be about survival,” Hans Kluge, regional director for Europe at the United Nations’ health body, said from the Ukrainian capital. “This winter will be life-threatening for millions of people in Ukraine,” he added. 

The attacks, the last major wave of which came this past Tuesday and continued intermittently into the weekend, are “already having knock-out effects on the health system and on the people’s health,” Kluge described. 

“Continued attacks on health and energy infrastructure mean hundreds of hospitals and health care facilities are no longer fully operational,” the WHO official said. “We expect two to three million more people to leave their homes in search of warmth and safety,” he forewarned. 

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal last Friday estimated that half of the entirety of the country’s energy infrastructure has been disabled by the Russian attacks at this point. Millions are already without power as temperatures plunge and Kiev saw its first snow of the season starting days ago. 

“Unfortunately Russia continues to carry out missile strikes on Ukraine’s civilian and critical infrastructure. Almost half of our energy system is disabled,” Shmyhal was cited in Reuters as saying.

Politico reported last week that Congressional leaders had been given classified intelligence reports detailing the expected impact of Russia’s campaign to degrade Ukraine’s power grid. 

“The Ukrainian government is warning Western allies that it is anticipating increased Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure in the coming days and that Kyiv does not have enough replacement parts to bring heat and power back online if those occur, according to two congressional officials and one Western official briefed on U.S. intelligence,” the report said.

Politico detailed further that “Ukrainian officials have in recent days asked their American counterparts and more than half a dozen European countries for assistance preparing for a prolonged period with limited electricity and gas — a scenario Kyiv expects to complicate fighting on the ground and displace civilians, the officials and an adviser to the Ukrainian government said.”

Amid emergency rolling blackouts and city or regional mandates banning use of large appliances and other imposed consumption limits, Ukraine government officials are urging the people not to panic. “Denying the panicky statements spread by social networks and online media, we assure you that the situation with the energy supply is difficult, but under control,” the energy ministry said in a Saturday statement.

This post was originally published at Zero Hedge

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AP Fires Reporter Behind False Report Claiming ‘Russian Missiles Struck Poland’

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Chris Menahan | Information Liberation

Artur Widak/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Associated Press on Monday fired one of two reporters with a byline on last week’s now-retracted report that claimed “Russian missiles” had “crossed into NATO member Poland” and killed two people.

From The Daily Beast, AP Fires Reporter Behind Retracted ‘Russian Missiles’ Story”:

That report, which was widely cited across the internet and on cable news, was taken offline the following day and replaced with an editor’s note admitting the single source [a “senior U.S. intelligence official”] was wrong and that “subsequent reporting showed that the missiles were Russian-made and most likely fired by Ukraine in defense against a Russian attack.”

On Monday, the AP fired James LaPorta, the investigative reporter responsible for that story, Confider has learned.

The piece, which was originally co-bylined with John Leicester (who is still working at the AP), attributed the information to a single “senior U.S. intelligence official,” despite the AP’s rule that it “routinely seeks and requires more than one source when sourcing is anonymous.”

The only exception, according to its statement of news values and principles, is when “material comes from an authoritative figure who provides information so detailed that there is no question of its accuracy”—a situation that seemingly did not occur, as the report was fully retracted last Wednesday.

When reached for comment, an AP spokesperson did not comment on LaPorta’s ouster but instead wrote: “The rigorous editorial standards and practices of The Associated Press are critical to AP’s mission as an independent news organization. To ensure our reporting is accurate, fair and fact-based, we abide by and enforce these standards, including around the use of anonymous sources.”

The Washington Post blamed internal “confusion and misunderstanding” for the report:

Internal AP communications viewed by The Post show some confusion and misunderstanding during the preparations of the erroneous report.

LaPorta shared the U.S. official’s tip in an electronic message around 1:30 p.m. Eastern time. An editor immediately asked if AP should issue an alert on his tip, “or would we need confirmation from another source and/or Poland?”

After further discussion, a second editor said she “would vote” for publishing an alert, adding, “I can’t imagine a U.S. intelligence official would be wrong on this.”

Woman moment.

But a person at the Associated Press familiar with the larger conversations surrounding the story that day said LaPorta also told his editors that a senior manager had already vetted the source of LaPorta’s tip — leaving the impression that the story’s sourcing had been approved. While that editor had signed off on previous stories using LaPorta’s source, that editor had not weighed in on the missile story.

Easton said the organization did not anticipate any discipline for the editors involved.

“She” voted to publish this bombshell report that violated the AP’s own rules on the use of anonymous sources and risked sparking WW3 because she couldn’t “imagine” a senior U.S. intelligence official could be wrong but she is not being fired — only LaPorta is getting canned.

Some great “standards” you got there, AP!

This post was originally published at Information Liberation

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Sweden Finds “Foreign Objects” & Explosive Residue On Nord Stream Pipelines

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Swedish Coast Guard / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Swedish investigators announced Friday the conclusion of their formal investigation into the Nord Stream pipeline blasts on September 26. To nobody’s surprise, the investigation has concluded the natural gas leaks which rocked European energy markets and resulted in tit-for-tat accusations between Moscow and the West was the result of “gross sabotage”. 

While not naming a culprit, the Swedish final report of this initial stage of the inquiry uncovered evidence of “foreign objects” placed on the pipelines

“During analyzes carried out, residues of explosives have been identified on several of the foreign objects seized,” the report said

The Swedish Prosecution Authority’s statement said, “In the crime scene investigations carried out on site in the Baltic Sea, the area and the extensive damage to the gas lines as a result of the detonations have been extensively documented.”

Russia has denied responsibility, while at the same time pointing the finger at Washington or its allies. Swedish investigators say they will now work toward establishing who was behind the sabotage:

“The advanced analysis work is still in progress – the aim is to draw more definitive conclusions about the Nord Stream incidents,” the agency said. “The investigation is extensive and complex and will eventually show whether anyone can be suspected of, and later prosecuted for this.”

Previously, Denmark and Sweden said soon after the massive leaks in late September that the blasts “probably corresponded to an explosive load of several hundred kilos.”

Russian media sources, as well as a handful of Western pundits, have alleged that US naval activity was observed in that regional of the Baltic Sea during the time of the incident. 

If Sweden ultimately says that Russia was behind the attack on the pipelines, Moscow is likely to dismiss it, and call for their own independent access to and investigation of the evidence and site.

This post originally appeared at Zero Hedge

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