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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Graeme Sloan/Reuters

Republican showdown over Ukraine

Kyiv is likely on tenterhooks after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday rebuffed the prospect of Congress passing a supplemental funding bill for Ukraine, saying that such a proposal “isn’t going anywhere.”

This is a big deal for two reasons. First, it is an obvious blow for Kyiv, which has become reliant on US economic and military aid – Washington has doled out $110 billion since the war started. The timing is also less-than-ideal considering that Kyiv has just gotten its much-anticipated counteroffensive off the ground.

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A general view of the Nova Kakhovka dam that was breached in Kherson region.


Dam disaster in southern Ukraine

A major dam in the Russian-controlled region of Nova Kakhovka in southeast Ukraine suffered a massive breach Tuesday, putting at least 16,000 people at risk of severe flooding on the Ukrainian west bank of the Dnipro River. Kyiv blamed Russian shelling for the dam breach, but the Kremlin, unsurprisingly, said it was the Ukrainians.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin against the backdrop of NATO, Ukrainian and US flags.

GZERO Media/ Jess Frampton

No, the US didn’t “provoke” the war in Ukraine

Is the US to blame for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

That’s what Jeffrey Sachs thinks. In a recent op-ed titled “The War in Ukraine Was Provoked,” the Columbia University professor – a man I’ve known and respected for a solid 25 years, who was once hailed as “the most important economist in the world” and who’s played a leading role in the fight against global poverty – argues that the United States is responsible for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine 15 months ago.

This claim is morally challenged and factually wrong, but it is not a fringe view. Many other prominent figures such as political scientist John Mearsheimer, billionaire Elon Musk, conservative media star Tucker Carlson, and even Pope Francis have made similar assertions, echoing the Kremlin’s narrative that Russia is but a victim of Western imperialism.

This strain of Putin apologia has taken root in China, pockets of the US far left and far right, and much of the developing world, making it all the more important to debunk it once and for all.

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomes Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Chancellery in Berlin.


Hard Numbers: German arms for Ukraine, Serbia rejects ‘thoughts and prayers,' deadly storm hits Myanmar and Bangladesh, Sweden sweeps Eurovision

2.7 billion: Ahead of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s trip to Berlin on Sunday, Germany announced an additional €2.7 billion in military aid ($2.95 billion) for Ukraine, including an additional 30 Leopard 1 A5 tanks. Germany was criticized for being slow to arm Ukraine but has since emerged as one of the largest provider of military aid to Kyiv.

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A baby carriage stands on the bridge destroyed during the war on the arterial road from Irpin near Kyiv.


75 years later: What can the Marshall Plan teach us about rebuilding Ukraine?

It’s been 75 years since Secretary of State George C. Marshall implored the United States to help Western Europe rebuild after the devastation of World War II. The result was the Marshall Plan, an economic assistance program that saw the US dole out $14.3 billion dollars (the equivalent of $$150 billion today) to help rebuild Western Europe. Sixteen countries benefited from the program.

Another major reconstruction effort now looms in Europe as the war rages on in Ukraine. So far, Russia’s invasion has cost Ukraine $135 billion dollars worth of damage. It has wiped out 15 years of economic growth, slashed GDP by 29%, and pushed 1.7 million Ukrainians into poverty. Just cleaning up the rubble over the next decade will cost an estimated $5 billion, according to the World Bank.

The war in Ukraine is the most costly military conflict on European soil since the 1940s. So as world leaders plan for its recovery, the Marshall Plan offers a sound model. Back then, the US needed to boost economies – both in Europe and at home – and ward off the expansion of Soviet communism. This time, the stakes for the US are not as high, and the US isn’t the only country in a position to assist Ukraine.

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A pair of glasses with blood on them in the aftermath of deadly shelling in Kostiantynivka, Ukraine.


What We’re Watching: Russia hits eastern Ukraine, Finland's election results, UBS-Credit Suisse probe, European leaders prepare for Xi meeting

Russia’s defense chief says more ammo is on the way

At least six Ukrainians were killed Sunday in the eastern city of Kostyantynivka as Russian forces continued their onslaught on the nearby city of Bakhmut in hopes of occupying the entire Donetsk region in the Donbas.

The attack on residential buildings in the industrial city comes as Russian forces in eastern Ukraine appear increasingly depleted and desperate – and unfolded just days after President Vladimir Putin announced a spring conscription, confirming that 147,000 more soldiers will be called up this month in anticipation of a fresh Ukrainian offensive.

Later on Sunday, a prominent Russian nationalist and military blogger was killed when a St. Petersburg cafe was hit in a targeted attack. Russian authorities have since arrested a woman, reportedly an anti-war activist, who – records show – spent time in jail for participating in an anti-war protest.

It’s clear that Russia’s defense establishment is jittery: In recent days, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu addressed Russia’s depleting ammo reserves, telling high-ranking military officials that “necessary measures are being taken to increase” stockpiles.

This comes after the British military announced that Russia’s failure to make advancements in Bakhmut was largely due to artillery ammunition shortages that are causing Russian forces to ration their rounds, which hardly sounds like a winning military strategy. Still, it remains unclear exactly how Moscow is planning to rapidly increase its stash of short precision weapons.

Crucially, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War reported in recent days that amid stagnation on the battlefield, a reshuffle amongst Russian senior commanders could soon be in the cards.

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The Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich.


US reporter charged with espionage in Russia: Will foreign reporters now flee?

Evan Gershkovich, an American reporter working in Moscow for the Wall Street Journal, was arrested last week. One day after co-authoring a bombshell report on how Western sanctions were finally taking a toll on the Russian economy, Gershkovich was pulled last Wednesday from a restaurant in Yekaterinburg, near the Ural Mountains, by Russian authorities. He was charged with espionage and could face up to 20 years in jail.

This marks the first time since 1986 that a US journalist has been accused of spying in Russia. The Journal, along with dozens of other media outlets, the Biden administration, and the Committee to Protect Journalists are demanding Gershkovich’s immediate release. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with his Russian counterpart on the matter. But things look bleak for the 31-year-old, whose parents fled the former Soviet Union, before settling in New Jersey.

GZERO sat down with New York-based Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, to get her take on what comes next, how Western media firms might react to this event, the risks journalists face in Russia, and what this means for future coverage of the war in Ukraine. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Smoke rises near a building belonging to the border patrol section of Russia's FSB federal security service in the southern city of Rostov.


What set an FSB compound on fire?

At least one person was killed and two were injured on Thursday after a fire broke out at a compound used by Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, in the southern city of Rostov. Speculation swirled early on about the cause of the blaze – the FSB is located just 43 miles from Ukraine near the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where heavy fighting rages.

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