US Congress passes second government funding bill without Ukraine aid

Both chambers of the U.S. Congress have approved a short-term stopgap spending bill to avert a partial government shutdown through the fall. The bill, now awaiting President Joe Biden's signature, funds parts of the federal government until March 22. Notably, it does not include additional aid for Ukraine.

This marks the second stop-gap measure passed after the first partial spending bill, which lacked extra funding for Ukraine. The U.S. Senate had previously passed a $95 billion foreign aid bill on February 13, with $60 billion allocated for Ukraine, among other allies. However, the proposal is pending approval in the House of Representatives.

Efforts to provide assistance for Ukraine have faced delays, impacting Ukraine's ability to counter Russian aggression. President Biden has emphasized continued support for Ukraine despite obstacles in Congress, stating that the U.S. will not abandon its commitment to the country's defense. The President has engaged in multiple discussions with House and Senate leadership to expedite the passage of Ukraine aid.

Ukrainian strikes have reduced Russia's oil refining capacity

UK Defence Intelligence has conducted an analysis indicating that Ukrainian drone attacks targeting Russian facilities have likely led to a temporary decline in Russia's oil refining capacity. Numerous UAV strikes on oil refineries across Russia have been identified as contributing to this impact.

The report highlights that Russia implemented a six-month ban on petrol exports starting from March 1, 2024, with the aim of stabilizing prices in the domestic market amid increasing demand. The export ban is expected to alleviate supply pressures and provide an opportunity for Russia to conduct repairs on its refineries.

However, intelligence suggests that the repair process may extend beyond the norm due to Western sanctions, which impede Russia's ability to import essential components. The UK Ministry of Defence emphasized that the Russian government is likely to be particularly sensitive to rising gasoline prices and other commodities leading up to the presidential election scheduled for March 15-17.

Ukraine's air defence downs 12 out of 15 Russian attack drones

On the night of March 8-9, Russia launched 15 Shahed attack drones in an attack against Ukraine. Ukraine's Air Force reported that their air defenses successfully intercepted and shot down 12 of the drones, preventing their potential impact on Ukrainian territory.

The drones were reportedly launched from Chauda in temporarily occupied Crimea and Primorsko-Akhtarsk in Russia. Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile units from the Air Force, along with mobile fire groups from the Defence Forces, were actively engaged in countering the drone attack.

The destroyed Shahed drones were located over Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, and Poltava oblasts. The successful defense against this drone assault showcases Ukraine's capacity to protect its airspace from such threats.

UK officially proposes Germany to exchange Taurus for Storm Shadow missiles to provide them to Ukraine

David Cameron, the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom, has suggested a missile exchange with Germany to enhance support for Ukraine. Cameron proposed that Germany supply Taurus missiles to the UK in exchange for British Storm Shadow missiles. The aim is to provide Ukraine with additional long-range weapons.

Cameron expressed the UK's willingness to consider all options to maximize the impact of support for Ukraine. The proposal involves Germany providing Taurus missiles to the UK, and in return, the UK would supply Ukraine with additional Storm Shadow missiles. The details of the exchange are not disclosed to prevent adversaries from gaining insights into the plan.

Addressing concerns about the potential escalation of the conflict, Cameron stated that restrictions on the use of these weapons could be imposed to ensure they do not contribute to escalation. He emphasized the UK's trust in Ukraine's assurances and expressed satisfaction with the agreements reached.

The proposed missile exchange reflects the ongoing efforts by various countries to provide military aid to Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression.