Breaking News: Ukraine Launches Strike on Vital Russian Oil Refinery; Belarus Commences Military Exercises near European Union Borders

Breaking News: Ukraine Launches Strike on Vital Russian Oil Refinery; Belarus Commences Military Exercises near European Union Borders

7 Mins Ago

Blinken warns of ‘critical moment’ for Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris, France, April 2, 2024. 

Benoit Tessier | Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday warned that Ukraine is at a “critical moment” in the war with Russia and is in urgent need of more Western support, as a multibillion dollar U.S. aid package stays stalled in Congress.

Blinken told journalists during a visit to Paris that it was “absolutely essential” to get Ukraine more military supplies, particularly munitions and air defenses, according to media outlets, including Reuters.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have held up the White House’s supplementary budget request for Ukraine, citing other domestic priorities, such as border security.

– Elliot Smith

An Hour Ago

Putin: Russia will find out who ordered Moscow concert shooting

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday vowed to find out who ordered last month’s mass shooting in a Moscow concert hall, which killed at least 144 people.

“We will definitely get to those who ordered it,” Putin told a meeting of Interior Ministry officials, according to Reuters. He also reportedly stressed that the Kremlin’s investigation of the incident “must be extremely objective and professional.”

Terror group ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

An Hour Ago

Russian spy boss says U.S. intelligence on Moscow terror attack was too general

Sergei Naryshkin, director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, said that intelligence supplied by the U.S. ahead of the deadly terrorist attack on a Moscow theater last month was too general, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday.

U.S. intelligence agencies notified Moscow of an imminent assault two weeks before the attack that killed more than 130 people. Terror group ISIS claimed responsibility, but did not provide proof.

– Elliot Smith

3 Hours Ago

Ukraine drone strikes major oil refinery deep into Russian territory

On Tuesday, Ukraine struck one Russia’s largest oil refineries with a drone attack on the highly industrialized Tatarstan region, around 800 miles from the front lines of the conflict.

Kyiv also claimed it had inflicted significant damage on a military target, according to Reuters. Rustam Minnikhanov, the head of the Tatarstan regional administration, confirmed in a post on Telegram that industrial locations had been targeted by drone strikes in the towns of Nizhnekamsk and Yelabuga.

“There is no serious damage, the technological process of the enterprises is not disrupted. In Yelabuga, unfortunately, there are victims as a result of the destruction of the premises. They are given all the necessary help,” Minnikhanov said, according to a Google translation.

Reuters reported that drones struck a primary refining unit at the Taneco refinery, one of Russia’s biggest with a production capacity of around 360,000 barrels per day. Russia’s state-owned RIA news agency reported that a fire broke out at the refinery but was extinguished within 20 minutes.

Elliot Smith

4 Hours Ago

Germany to send 180,000 rounds of artillery shells to Ukraine via Czech ammo initiative – Reuters

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius speaks with soldiers of the Bundeswehr Panzergrenadierbataillon 122 armoured infantry battalion during a live-fire exercise prior to the unit’s deployment to Poland and then Lithuania on February 28, 2024 in Weiden, Germany. 

Leonhard Simon | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Germany will send an additional 180,000 rounds of artillery shells to Ukraine as part of a Czech-led initiative to supply ammunition for Kyiv’s war effort, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing a German defense ministry spokesperson.

CNBC could not independently verify the information.

The shells will reportedly cost Europe’s largest economy 576 million euros ($619 million), on top of the separate 478 million euro package announced by Defense Minister Boris Pistorius last month.

– Elliot Smith

4 Hours Ago

U.S. House speaker signals Ukraine aid vote could be imminent

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., makes his way to the House floor on Friday, March 22, 2024. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., filed a motion to vacate him from the speakership, later in the day. 

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., over the weekend indicated that the chamber could soon vote on fresh funding for Ukraine.

Speaking on Fox News on Sunday, Johnson said that “important innovations” to a potential aid package meant that a vote could come soon after Congress returns from Easter recess on April 9.

The speaker faces pressure from within his party by way of House Republican hard-liners in the Freedom Caucus, after he made key concessions in order to pass the recent budget bill and avert a government shutdown.

Many House representatives on the right of the Republican Party have voiced opposition to continued Ukraine aid and have threatened Johnson’s position, if he proceeds to bring a Ukraine bill to the floor without ceding to other demands on spending and the border.

The innovations that Johnson mentioned aim to ease some of these concerns, such as including a loan rather than a grant and using confiscated assets from Russian oligarchs to fund the rebuilding of Ukraine.

– Elliot Smith

6 Hours Ago

Belarus starts military drills near Ukraine, EU borders

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attend a meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia April 6, 2023. 

Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik | Reuters

Belarus began military drills on Tuesday in regions along its border with Ukraine, with European Union nations Lithuania and Poland, the Russian ally’s defense ministry said.

The exercises will be held over three days in the Gomel and Grodno regions, and are intended to prepare officers and territorial defense personnel for defense of their respective regions, along with practicing protocols in the event that martial law is enacted in the country, the defense ministry said on the Telegram messaging app.

It also highlighted that April 2 is the “Day of Unity” for Belarus and Russia, commemorating the “long-term friendship of the peoples of Belarus and Russia,” according to a Google translation.

“The armies of Belarus and Russia regularly conduct joint military exercises and stand shoulder to shoulder to protect peace and security,” the defense ministry added.

Elliot Smith

6 Hours Ago

Russia targets energy infrastructure in overnight drone strikes, Ukraine says

On Monday night, Russia targeted various energy facilities in drone strikes on the Dnipropetrovsk and Kirovograd regions, Ukraine’s Operational Command “South” said on Facebook on Tuesday.

The military unit said air defense forces destroyed three drones over Dnipropetrovsk, while the rest were intercepted by other units, but an infrastructure target was struck in Kirovograd with no casualties.

— Elliot Smith

6 Hours Ago

Zelenskyy holds talks with officials over Ukrainian drone production programs

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during ‘Ukraine. Year 2024’ conference, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 25, 2024.

Valentyn Ogirenko | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held talks on Monday with military and government officials over Kyiv’s drone production plans and a project to build an “integrated electronic warfare control system” to protect Ukrainian troops from Russian drone attacks.

“We revised and specified production plans for all types of drones this year, including FPV, bombers, reconnaissance, and long-range drones for special missions,” the president said in a post on X.

“We discussed how to ensure our defense industry’s flexibility. Frontline needs are constantly changing, and our manufacturers must respond in a timely manner.”

He added that “important decisions were made to streamline procurement procedures and component imports, increase the production of charges for drones, and train operators.”

Elliot Smith

6 Hours Ago

Ukraine’s national grid chief says energy system collapse unlikely despite Russian strikes

The head of Ukraine’s national grid company said on Monday that while Russian drone attacks have significantly damaged the Ukrainian power system, a total collapse is unlikely.

Russian forces have been attacking thermal and hydropower stations on a regular basis since March 22, causing blackouts in many regions.

“Their [the Russians’] goal is to impose blackouts in some major Ukrainian cities, and our goal is to prevent it,” Ukrenergo chairman Volodymyr Kudrytskyi told Reuters in an interview.

Elliot Smith

7 Hours Ago

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