What you need to know
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced a new aid package worth $1 billion (around €932 million) for Ukraine.
The top diplomat is on a two-day unannounced visit to the country.
As part of the package, the US is planning to supply 120-millimeter depleted uranium rounds to Kyiv. The ammunition is for M1 Abrams tanks that are expected to be delivered before the end of the year.
Meanwhile, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg downplayed any suggestion that Russia attacked Romania after possible drone debris was found near the border over night.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also introduced incoming Defense Minister Rustem Overov to the military's top brass, tasking him with rebuilding public trust in the ministry after a series of corruption allegations.
Here are more headlines concerning Russia's War in Ukraine on Thursday, September 7:
Blinken, Romanian minister discuss drone debris found in Romania
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Romanian Foreign Minister Luminita Odobescu discussed Romania's investigation into drone debris found in Romania close to its border with Ukraine, the US State Department said.
Parts of what could be a Russian drone fell on Romanian territory, Defense Minister Angel Tilvar said on Wednesday, two days after Ukraine said Russian drones had detonated on the NATO member country's land.
Romanian officials had earlier denied reports of drones crashing on Romanian soil and said Russian attacks in neighboring Ukraine did not pose a direct threat.
Zelenskyy discusses Israeli support for Kyiv with Netanyahu
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed ways in which Israel can support Ukraine to repel the full-scale Russian invasion, the Ukrainian president's office said.
Zelenskyy, who is of Jewish descent, has previously urged Israel to provide more open support for Kyiv and criticized its attempts to maintain an even-handed approach in the 18-month-old war.
"The president noted the importance of Israel's support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," read the account of the conversation on the Ukrainian presidential website.
Israel has provided Ukraine with humanitarian and diplomatic assistance but not arms, mindful of the need to coordinate Israeli air strikes against Iranian targets in neighboring Syria with Moscow given Russia's clout with Damascus.
Netanyahu's office said the two leaders discussed "the continuation of Israeli assistance to Ukraine, including to Ukrainian refugees in Israel, as well as the advancement of development assistance of civilian air defense systems."
US announces new $600 million aid package for Ukraine
The United States announced a new $600 million (€560 million) security assistance package for Ukraine that includes demolition munitions and mine-clearing equipment as well as artillery ammunition.
The aid will not immediately arrive on the battlefield, as it falls under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), under which Washington procures equipment from the defense industry or partners rather than drawing from US stocks.
The package will "support Ukraine's battlefield needs" and demonstrates "unwavering US support for Ukraine," the Pentagon said in a statement.
The latest announcement comes a day after Washington pledged more than $1 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Kyiv, including 120mm depleted uranium rounds for M1 Abrams tanks that are expected to be delivered before the end of the year.
Russia detains alleged Ukrainian aircraft part smugglers
Russia's FSB state security agency said it arrested a group of people smuggling military aircraft parts, some of which reportedly ended up in Ukraine.
The smugglers allegedly purchased and repaired airplane and helicopter parts to export them to foreign customers, including those acting on behalf of Ukraine, state news agency TASS reported on Thursday.
The FSB, Russia's principal domestic security agency and the main successor body to the Soviet KGB, claimed to have confiscated more than 1,000 pieces of military aircraft equipment.
Russian authorities said the smugglers were from Ukraine and an unspecified Central Asian country.
Ukraine now exporting grain via Croatian ports: Kyiv
"Ukrainian grain has already been exported through Croatian ports. We are grateful for this possibility," Ukraine's First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said in a statement.
"Although it is a niche trade route, it is already popular."
She did not specify how much Ukrainian grain had already been shipped via Croatian ports.
Zelenskyy tells new defense minister to rebuild trust
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has tasked incoming Defense Minister Rustem Umerov with rebuilding public trust in the ministry.
"Most importantly, we need more trust," Zelenskyy said while presenting Umerov to senior military officials on Thursday.
"Trust in the decisions that are being made, trust in the procurement that is carried out, trust in the supplies."
The new defense minister has also been tasked with guiding Ukraine towards NATO membership and developing international cooperation.
Umerov himself said that he aimed to continue building an international coalition against Russia including "probably even unexpected partnerships."
Zelenskyy sacked Umerov's predecessor, Oleksii Reznikov, following graft accusations leveled at the ministry by Ukrainian media. Military analysts said the shake-up would not have a big impact on Ukraine's war effort.
Oligarch investigated for alleged embezzlement
One of the leading oligarchs in Ukraine, Ihor Kolomoisky, is the subject of a criminal investigation into funds from lender PrivatBank, a Ukrainian lawmaker said on Thursday.
Kolomoisky founded PrivatBank in 1992 and went on to become one of the richest people in the country.
However, he was indicted in the US in 2020 on charges of large-scale bank fraud. In 2022, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship. He retains Israeli and Cypriot citizenship.
On Thursday, lawmaker Yaroslav Zheleznyak said Kolomoisky had been formally served a notice of suspicion.
Ukraine had announced his preliminary detention earlier in the week.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau Of Ukraine also said it identified six people as suspects in a case into embezzlement at PrivatBank.
Ukraine's counteroffensive 'slow-going' but 'effective'
Ukraine's counteroffensive has been slow but effective, according to a former US ambassador to NATO former special representative to Ukraine, Kurt Volker.
"Russia has created massive minefields and tank traps and other forms of defensive protections for their occupied areas. And Ukrainians are being very careful and methodical in going through this," Volker told DW.
"They are protecting their people. They're not throwing people at the front line like cannon fodder. And as a result, it is slow-going, but it's very effective."
Volker called the latest $1 billion (€927 million) US aid package to Ukraine "very important" and said it includes "necessary equipment" such as additional demining capacity and more ammunition.
Volker said it would be a critical point in the war if Ukraine could advance far enough south to cut off the land bridge connecting the Russian city of Rostov to Crimea and southern Ukraine where the fighting is going on.
Lloyd's in talks with UN over new Black Sea grain insurance cover – Reuters
The British insurance and reinsurance market Lloyd's of London has been holding talks with the United Nations (UN) over continuing to offer insurance cover for Ukrainian grain shipments in the event that a new Black Sea grain deal can be reached.
"Are we happy and able to continue to provide insurances in the event that a corridor can be re-operated and can be re-established? The answer to that is yes," CEO John Neal told Reuters news agency on Thursday.
"We are in active discussions with the UN about how that might happen," Neal said, adding that those conversations included the possibility that cover may need to be structured differently than under the previous deal.
After Moscow withdrew from the UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative in July, ending a year of protected grain exports from Ukrainian ports despite the war, NATO member Turkey is once again attempting to mediate in attempts to convince Russia to return to talks.
Large parts of the world, including many African countries, are reliant on Ukrainian grain exports — but insurance cover is crucial for shipments leaving besieged Ukrainian ports.
"[Without] UN intervention and UN clearance, we would not sanction the insurance," Neal said.
Lloyd's, a UK government-regulated insurance marketplace rather than an insurance company itself, has specialized in marine insurance since its establishment in London in the 17th century.
Kremlin says US plan to give Russian funds to Ukraine is illegal
The Kremlin has said a US plan to give funds seized from Russian businesspeople as part of sanctions to Ukraine is illegal and would be contested.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said some Russian businessmen had already challenged similar actions in certain countries where courts found them to be illegal.
Western governments seized around $300 billion of Russian central bank assets shortly after Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, as well as tens of billions of dollars worth of private Russian assets, and the idea of using these frozen assets to help fund the reconstruction of Ukraine and ensure the country receives compensation is not new.
In June 2023, the British government announced plans for legislation to keep assets frozen even after the end of hostilities until Moscow has agreed to pay compensation.
The European Union, however, which currently holds around €200 billion of frozen Russian assets within the bloc and has pledged to contribute to Ukraine's reconstruction, this week tempered plans to directly harness those assets after pushback from countries such as France and Germany, who prefer a more staggered approach.
Now 561 days into Russia’s full-scale war, the cost of rebuilding Ukraine is currently estimated at over $400 billion.
NATO's Stoltenberg says no indication Russia attacked Romania
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that Russia did not launch an intentional attack on alliance member Romania. The remarks come after possible drone debris was found in Romania near the Ukrainian border.
"We don't have any information indicating any intentional attack by Russia and we are awaiting the outcome of the ongoing investigation," he told EU legislators.
"Regardless of that outcome, what we have seen of course is a lot of fighting and also air attacks close to NATO borders," Stoltenberg added.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis earlier called for an urgent probe into the debris.
Ukraine said the drones exploded in Romania amid a Russian attack on the Ukrainian port city of Izmail. The city lies close to the Romanian border.
An intentional attack on a NATO country would be considered an armed attack against the entire alliance under Article 5 of the NATO charter.
NATO chief: Ukraine counteroffensive is 'gaining ground'
"They [Ukrainian forces] have been able to breach the defensive lines of the Russian forces and they are moving forward," said Stoltenberg to lawmakers at the European Parliament.
The progress, he said proves "the importance of our support and also our ability and willingness to continue the support."
Recently, Ukraine claimed to have broken through Russia's fortified first line of defense in its grueling southern offensive.
However, Kyiv officials admitted that the long drive southwards has been slower than they hoped and has taken a heavy toll on its forces.
The troops have had to reportedly resort to smaller-scale attacks on foot after full-frontal assaults were stalled by the Russians.
Ukraine has been receiving shipments of Western armorand weapons to aid its push against Russia.
Moscow criticizes US decision to supply Kyiv with depleted uranium
Russia has denounced a US plan to provide Ukraine with arms containing depleted uranium, calling it an "indicator of inhumanity."
Washington announced a new aid package for Kyiv on Wednesday that included 120mm depleted uranium tank ammunition for Abrams tanks.
"Clearly, with its idea of inflicting a 'strategic defeat,' Washington is prepared to fight not only to the last Ukrainian but also to do away with entire generations," the Russian Embassy in Washington said in a statement on Telegram.
"The US is deliberately transferring weapons with indiscriminate effects," the statement added.
"It is fully aware of the consequences: explosions of such munitions result in the formation of a moving radioactive cloud."
The decision to provide Ukraine with depleted uranium rounds could prove controversial, given health concerns about inhaling or swallowing particulates from explosions caused by such ammunition.
The reason the ammunition is used is the high density of the material, making it suitable both as armor and for piercing armor.
Macron says Russian flag cannot fly at Paris Olympics
French President Emmanuel Macron said "the Russian flag cannot be at the Paris Olympic Games ... at a time when Russia is committing war crimes."
In an interview with sports daily L'Equipe, he said it would be up to the International Olympic Committee to decide whether Russian athletes will be allowed to compete as neutrals in the 2024 event.
"The real question that the Olympic world will have to decide is what place to give to these Russian athletes who sometimes have prepared for a lifetime, and can also be the victims of this regime," he said.
"It is not the host state which must decide what the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should do."
The IOC has so far recommended allowing athletes from Russia and Moscow ally Belarus to compete as individual neutrals in international competitions. But they have to meet certain conditions, including proving that they have not actively supported Russia's war in Ukraine.
"There is no place for Russia as a country at a time when it has committed war crimes, when it has deported children," said Macron.
Blinken announces new $1 bn aid package
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance to Ukraine during a surprise two-day visit to the country on Wednesday.
Washington's latest aid package to Kyiv is worth $1 billion (around €932 million). It includes up to $175 million in military assistance, involving 120mm depleted uranium tank ammunition for Abrams tanks.
Britain has already sent uranium rounds to Ukraine, but this would be the first US shipment.
The package also includes $100 million in foreign military financing, $90.5 million for demining assistance, $300 million to support law enforcement in areas recaptured from Russia, $206 million in humanitarian aid, and $203 million for reform efforts and the investigation of war crimes.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Blinken that Washington's support was "not charity," saying: "Today, thanks to our partners, Ukraine is restraining Russia's aggression."
The decision to provide Ukraine with depleted uranium rounds could stir controversy. Such munitions have been linked to health problems, such as cancer and birth defects, in areas where they were used in past conflicts.
rmt/nm (AP, Reuters)