A group representing the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada said on Tuesday it was seeking a judicial review of the federal government’s decision to return repaired turbines to Germany that are needed for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline.
The Canadian government on Saturday said it was issuing a “time-limited and revocable permit” to exempt the return of turbines from its Russian sanctions as Europe seeks continued energy flows until it can end its dependency on Russian gas.
Ukraine’s energy and foreign ministries said on Sunday the decision amounted to adjusting sanctions imposed on Moscow “to the whims of Russia” and called for it to be reversed.
Russia last month cited the delayed return of the turbines, which Germany’s Siemens Energy has been servicing in Canada, as the reason behind its reduction of flows to 40 per cent of capacity through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.
“This exemption to the sanctions regime against Russia is totally unacceptable,” the Ukrainian World Congress said in a statement. “There are real alternatives to Germany’s gas needs, including buying through Ukraine’s pipeline.”
The Ukrainian World Congress said it had filed a notice of application for judicial review to the Federal Court and was requesting “a declaration that the decision to provide a permit to Siemens was unreasonable and unauthorized and an order quashing the permit.”
The Department of National Defence did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment from Reuters.
Financial aid to pay Ukraine’s health workers
Ukraine is getting an additional $1.7 billion in assistance from the U.S. government and the World Bank to pay the salaries of its beleaguered health-care workers and provide other essential services.
The money coming Tuesday from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Treasury Department and the World Bank is meant to alleviate the acute budget deficit caused by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “brutal war of aggression,” USAID said in a statement.
While many medical staffers have left Ukraine, some hospitals have shut down and others have been bombed. The health workers who remain in Ukraine do their jobs under dire circumstances.
Viktor Liashko, Ukraine’s minister of health, said paying health workers’ salaries is becoming more difficult each month “due to the overwhelming burden of war.”
“$1.7 billion is not just yet another financial support; it is an investment that makes us a step closer to victory,” Liashko said in a statement.
Reaction from Ukraine PM:
1.7 billion dollars of grant aid came to the Ukrainian budget from the Trust Fund of the <a href=”https://twitter.com/WorldBank?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@WorldBank</a> and <a href=”https://twitter.com/USAID?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@USAID</a>. This is the second US grant in the last two weeks, the total amount of aid is to 3 billion dollars. Grateful to 🇺🇸 & <a href=”https://twitter.com/POTUS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@POTUS</a> for incredible support.
To date, USAID has given $4 billion in budgetary support to the Ukrainian government. These funds have been used for keeping gas and electricity flowing to hospitals and schools, getting humanitarian supplies to citizens and paying the salaries of civil servants and teachers, the organization said.
Last week, the Biden administration said it will send another $400 million in military equipment to Ukraine, the 15th package of military weapons and equipment transferred to Ukraine from Defence Department stocks since last August.
Overall, the U.S. has sent about $7.3 billion in aid to Ukraine since the war began in late February.
Ukraine may be making use of new weapons
Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities said Tuesday that their forces targeted a Russian ammunition depot in the southern part of the country overnight, resulting in a massive explosion captured on social media.
The Ukrainian military’s southern command said a rocket strike targeted the depot in Russian-held Nova Kakhovka, about 55 kilometres east of the Black Sea port city of Kherson, which is also occupied by Russian forces.
The precision of the strike suggested Ukrainian forces used U.S.-supplied multiple-launch High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, to hit the area. Ukraine indicated in recent days that it might launch a counteroffensive to reclaim territory in the country’s south as Russia devotes resources to capturing all of the eastern Donbas region.
Russia’s Tass news agency offered a different account of the blast in Nova Kakhovka, saying a mineral fertilizer storage facility exploded, and that a market, hospital and houses were damaged in the strike. Some of the ingredients in fertilizer can be used for ammunition.
A satellite photo taken Tuesday and analyzed by The Associated Press showed significant damage. A massive crater stood precisely where a large, warehouse-like structure once stood in the city,
Ukraine now has eight of the HIMAR systems, a truck-mounted missile launcher with high accuracy, and Washington has promised to send another four.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russian shelling over the past 24 hours killed at least 16 civilians and wounded 48 more, Ukraine’s presidential office said in its Tuesday morning update. Cities and towns in five southeast regions came under Russian fire, the office said.
Nine civilians were killed and two more wounded in Donetsk province, which makes up half of the Donbas. Russian rocket attacks targeted the cities of Sloviansk and Toretsk, where a kindergarten was hit, the presidential office said.
The British Defence Ministry’s intelligence briefing said Russia had seized the Ukrainian town of Hryhorivka and continued to push toward the Donetsk province cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.
“Russian forces are likely maintaining military pressure on Ukrainian forces whilst regrouping and reconstituting for further offensives in the near future,” the intelligence briefing said.
In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and its surrounding region, Russian strikes hit residential buildings, killing four civilians and wounding nine, Ukrainian officials said.
Ukrainian authorities also said that Russian fire struck the southern city of Mykolaiv on Tuesday morning, hitting residential buildings. Twelve people were wounded as a result of the Russian shelling, with some of the rockets hitting two medical facilities, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said on Telegram.
Putin to visit Iran following U.S. weapons warning
Putin will visit Iran next week, the Kremlin said Tuesday, a day after the U.S. warned that Tehran could provide Moscow with drones for its action in Ukraine.
During a trip to Tehran next Tuesday, Putin will attend a trilateral meeting with the leaders of Iran and Turkey, the so-called Astana format of meetings for Syria-related talks, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
Putin’s visit to Iran will follow U.S. President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia this week, where Iran’s nuclear program and malign activities in the region will be a key subject of discussion.
The White House said Monday that it believes that Russia is turning to Iran to provide it with “hundreds” of drones, including those capable of carrying weapons, for use in Ukraine.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said it was unclear whether Iran had already provided any of the vehicles to Russia, but said the U.S. has “information” that indicates Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use them as soon as this month.
Iranian Foreign Minister spokesperson Nasser Kanaani did not deny the U.S. claim in comments on Tuesday.