The United States announced Monday a new security assistance package valued at $200 million for Ukraine. U.S. officials say it’s the first installment of a $6.2 billion aid package previously authorized under presidential drawdown authority guaranteeing the speedy delivery of existing Pentagon stockpiles to Ukraine.
The aid includes air defense munitions, artillery rounds, anti-armor capabilities, and additional mine-clearing equipment, said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who plays a central role in coordinating drawdowns, said in a statement.
Two U.S. officials told the Reuters news agency last Monday that the U.S. government would commit the $6.2 billion in funds to Ukraine after discovering a Pentagon accounting error that had overvalued billions of dollars of aid.
In May, the Pentagon said it had mistakenly overvalued U.S. weaponry shipped to Kyiv by inputting “replacement value" instead of "depreciated value" to calculate the billions' worth of ammunition, missiles and other equipment it sent to Ukraine. The accounting error works to Kyiv's benefit because more equipment can be sent.
Washington is currently working on a supplemental budget request to continue aid to Kyiv, the U.S. officials said.
“Every day, Russia is killing Ukrainian civilians and destroying civil infrastructure, while also weaponizing hunger and contributing to global food insecurity through its destruction of Ukraine’s civilian ports and grain infrastructure,” Blinken said in his statement.
“Russia started this war and could end it at any time by withdrawing its forces from Ukraine and stopping its brutal attacks. Until it does, the United States and our allies and partners will stand united with Ukraine, for as long as it takes,” he added.
Ukrainian officials said Monday a Russian aerial attack on the southern port city of Odesa injured at least three people.
The military also said air defenses downed all 15 drones Russia used in the attack, as well as eight sea-based missiles, but that falling debris caused damage on the ground.
Firefighters battled several fires that broke out as a result of the falling rocket fragments, the regional governor, Oleh Kiper, said on Telegram.
Watch related video by Heather Murdock from Odesa:
Russian shelling Sunday killed at least seven people, including a 23-day-old girl, and injured at least 22 others in Ukraine’s Kherson region.
“Her brother, who was only 12 years old, was taken to the hospital. Unfortunately, they could not save him. He died from severe wounds. The children's mother, her name was Olesia, she was only 39 years old, died. My condolences,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.
Black Sea ports are trying to clear a backlog of cargo vessels around the waterway. Dozens of ships dropped anchor in various Black Sea ports after Russia’s navy fired warning shots Sunday at a Palau-flagged cargo vessel headed to the Ukrainian port of Izmail.
There is growing unease among insurers and shipping companies. They fear that war premiums could rise to cover the heightened risk of ships becoming damaged or sinking in the area.
The cost of a Black Sea war risk premium, which is typically renewed every seven days and is in addition to annual insurance expenses, was estimated at tens of thousands of dollars per ship for the voyage.
"The security guarantees given to shipping by both sides under the BSGI (Black Sea Grain Initiative) are no longer in effect, which means that the Ukrainian Black Sea ports are effectively blockaded and out of use for commercial vessels," Norwegian ship insurer Gard said in an advisory note last week. It added that Ukrainian sea ports in the northwestern area were no longer categorized as "safe" ports contractually.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry on Monday condemned what it called gross violations of international law by Russia’s navy after the warning shots were fired.
A Ukrainian foreign ministry statement called on the international community to “take decisive action to prevent Russian Federation’s actions that impede the peaceful passage of vessels through the Black Sea.”
Ukraine also urged its partners to “strengthen their efforts to preserve the functioning of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is crucial to ensuring global food security.”
In July, Russia withdrew from the Black Sea grain agreement, which had allowed shipments to sail safely across the waterway.
The Russian defense ministry said Sunday the shots were fired because the captain of the Sukru Okan had ignored demands from the warship to stop. After firing the shots, Russian military troops descended from a helicopter onto the cargo ship.
After Russian forces inspected the Sukru Okan, the vessel was allowed to proceed to Izmail, the defense ministry said. Izmail is the main export route for Ukrainian agricultural products.
Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu is visiting Russia and Belarus in a show of support for those nations which the West has sought to isolate over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Li Monday began the six-day trip. He is scheduled to deliver an address at the Moscow Conference on International Security and meet with defense leaders from Russia and other nations, the defense ministry said on its social media account, citing spokesperson Col. Wu Qian.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will deliver remarks on the topic of the “Majority World countries' search for ways to development outside Western mechanisms, including strengthening multilateral associations of a new type,” Russia's official TASS news agency reported.
It said representatives from about 100 countries and eight international organizations had been invited to attend.
Some information in this report came from Reuters, The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.