Congress reaches deal to avert government shutdown with no plans for Ukraine aid

U.S. congressional leaders have reached a tentative agreement to prevent a government shutdown just days before the looming deadline. The deal involves temporary funding measures for various federal agencies, with funding extended through March 8 and another set through March 22. However, there is no immediate plan in place to approve the $95 billion emergency national security funds intended for Ukraine, Israel, and other allies.

The agreement aims to ensure bipartisan efforts to fund the government. House Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, along with the Appropriation Committee leaders, issued a joint statement highlighting the need for bipartisan collaboration.

The House is scheduled to vote on February 29 to authorize temporary funds, with the Senate expected to follow suit. The urgency of passing this measure is crucial, as certain federal funds are set to expire on Friday.

While negotiations continue to finalize a federal spending plan, the delay in providing U.S. assistance poses challenges for Ukraine's defense capabilities and has contributed to the recent loss of the key front-line city of Avdiivka. U.S. officials, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have emphasized the risk of Ukraine losing the war without American aid.

Schumer warned during his recent visit to Lviv that failure to support Ukraine could negatively impact the U.S.'s global standing and increase the likelihood of future conflicts, potentially requiring American military intervention. He stressed the broader implications, stating that allowing autocrats to succeed in Ukraine could lead to greater trouble and conflict in Europe, China, Iran, and the Middle East.

Ukraine downs two more Russian Su-34 jets

Ukrainian forces have reportedly shot down another Russian Su-34 attack plane, according to Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi. This comes just hours after the Ukrainian Air Force announced the downing of one Su-34 overnight. The first Su-34 was reportedly downed at 1 a.m. local time in the eastern direction. Another Su-34 was shot down around 9 a.m. local time in the Avdiivka and Mariupol directions. Russia has lost nearly a dozen Su-34 aircraft in February alone, with each plane estimated to cost around $36 million. Additionally, two Russian A-50 aircraft were downed by Ukrainian forces in January and February, each costing around $330 million.

Russian attacks against Ukraine kill 8, injure 12 over past day

The aftermath of a Russian airstrike against Velykyi Burluk, Kharkiv Oblast, on Feb. 28, 2024. (Deputy Head of the Presidential Office Oleksii Kuleba/Telegram)

Over the past day, Russian attacks against Ukraine have resulted in eight deaths and 12 injuries, according to reports from regional authorities. Civilian casualties were reported in various oblasts, including Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Kherson. In Kharkiv Oblast, a Russian airstrike targeted the railway station in the village of Velykyi Burluk, killing a 48-year-old man and a six-year-old girl, while injuring the child's mother. Additionally, an airstrike on the city of Kupiansk killed two people and injured five others. Other regions, including Nikopol, Donetsk Oblast, and Kherson Oblast, also experienced casualties and infrastructure damage due to Russian attacks.

The mass downing of Russian planes: the expert explained why it was a disaster for the Russians

According to military observer Oleksandr Kovalenko, Russia finds itself in a stalemate due to the massive destruction of its aircraft. The Russians have become dependent on guided aerial bombs (UAVs), and the loss of aircraft increases with their usage. Air defense systems are crucial for Russia in covering fortified areas and defense lines, enabling them to accelerate the offensive process. However, without these systems, they cannot advance or even hold captured positions effectively. Despite understanding the threat of losing planes, Russia continues to use them, trapping itself in dependence on air defense systems. Kovalenko also mentioned various versions circulating about Ukraine using Western anti-aircraft systems, but there is no official confirmation of specific systems being employed.