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U.S. House passes $40 bln bill to bolster Ukraine against Russian invasion

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(Last Updated On: May 11, 2022)

The U.S. House of Representatives approved more than $40 billion more aid for Ukraine on Tuesday, as Congress races to keep military aid flowing and boost the government in Kyiv as it grapples with the Russian invasion, Reuters reported.

The House passed the Ukraine spending bill by 368 to 57, with every ‘no’ vote coming from Republicans. The measure now heads to the Senate, which is expected to act quickly.

According to Reuters President Joe Biden had asked Congress to approve an additional $33 billion in aid for Ukraine two weeks ago, but lawmakers decided to increase the military and humanitarian funding.

“This bill will protect democracy, limit Russian aggression, and strengthen our own national security, while, most importantly, supporting Ukraine,” Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said as she urged support for the spending package.

Biden had called on Congress to move quickly so he could sign the bill into law before existing defense aid for Ukraine runs out later in May, read the report.

Some Republicans opposed the bill, criticizing Democrats for moving too quickly to send too many U.S. taxpayer dollars abroad. Biden’s fellow Democrats narrowly control Congress, but the bill will need Republican votes to get through the Senate.

Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, appealed for assistance to both Democratic and Republican senators at their weekly party lunches on Tuesday.

“It was a very heartfelt and easy to understand message: Their people are dying, they’re running out of supplies and ammunition. They need our help quickly. Thank you for all our help. Please. Speed it up,” Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said after Markarova spoke.

Republican Senator Rob Portman, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and leader of the Senate Ukraine caucus, said he expected enough Republican backing for the bill to get it through the Senate.

“I think it will pass. There will be significant Republican support,” he said.

BILLIONS FOR WEAPONS

The package includes $6 billion for security assistance, including training, equipment, weapons and support; $8.7 billion to replenish stocks of U.S. equipment sent to Ukraine, and $3.9 billion for European Command operations, Reuters reported.

In addition, the legislation authorizes a further $11 billion in Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows the president to authorize the transfer of articles and services from U.S. stocks without congressional approval in response to an emergency. Biden had asked for $5 billion.

It also authorizes $4 billion in Foreign Military Financing to provide support for Ukraine and other countries affected by the crisis.

The United States has rushed more than $3.5 billion worth of armaments to Ukraine since Russia invaded, including howitzers, anti-aircraft Stinger systems, anti-tank Javelin missiles, ammunition and recently-disclosed “Ghost” drones.

According to Reuters the new aid package also includes humanitarian assistance – $5 billion to address food insecurity globally due to the conflict and nearly $9 billion for an economic support fund for Ukraine.

It provides hundreds of millions of dollars to help refugees and fund efforts to seize the assets of oligarchs linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose government has called the invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation.”

The war has killed thousands of civilians, forced millions of Ukrainians from their homes and reduced cities to rubble. Moscow has little to show for it beyond a strip of territory in the south and marginal gains in the east.

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Saudi Arabia, US prepare for bilateral Native Fury 22 drill in Yanbu, Al-Kharj 

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2022)

Saudi and US marine corps arrived in Yanbu on Tuesday ahead of the planned bilateral Native Fury 22 drill maneuvers, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. 

The exercises are set to take place this week in Yanbu and Al-Kharj and will last for several days, according to SPA. 

The drills are aimed at enhancing the partnership between Saudi forces and their US counterparts when carrying out bilateral plans, SPA said. 

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FBI searches Trump’s Florida home as part of presidential records probe

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2022)

Former US president Donald Trump said FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday and broke into his safe in what his son acknowledged was part of an investigation into Trump’s removal of official presidential records from the White House to his Florida resort.

The unprecedented search of a former president’s home would mark a significant escalation into the records investigation, which is one of several probes Trump is facing from his time in office and in private business. 

The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the search, which Trump in a statement called a raid and said involved a “large group of FBI agents.” The FBI’s headquarters in Washington and its field office in Miami both declined comment, Reuters reported.

Eric Trump, one of the former president’s adult children, told Fox News the search concerned boxes of documents that Trump brought with him from the White House, and that his father has been cooperating with the National Archives on the matter for months.

A source familiar with the matter also confirmed to Reuters the raid appeared to be tied to Trump’s removal of classified records from the White House.

“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said, adding: “They even broke into my safe!”

Trump was not present at the time as he was in New York on Monday, Fox News Digital reported, publishing a photo of Trump that a Fox reporter said showed him leaving Trump Tower.

Trump, who has made his club in Palm Beach his home since leaving the White House in January 2021, has generally spent summers at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, because Mar-a-Lago typically closes for the summer.

A federal law called the U.S. Presidential Records Act requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties.

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China continues military drills around Taiwan

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(Last Updated On: August 8, 2022)

China’s military said on Monday it is continuing drills in the seas and skies around Taiwan.

The Eastern Theater Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army said on social media Weibo that it will practice conducting anti-submarine attacks and sea raids, Reuters reported.

The military has carried out an unprecedented set of naval and air force drills in areas near Taiwan following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island last week.

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