US Senate Blocks Economic Aid to Ukraine and Israel
Moving to the US now, where Senate Republicans have blocked a new spending bill which aims to provide billions of dollars in security assistance for Ukraine and Israel. The bill aims to give around $110.5 billion to the two countries, with about $50 billion in security assistance for Ukraine and about $14 billion for Israel. The bill would also provide money for humanitarian and economic aid in Kiev. The bill needed 60 votes in order to start the debate. In total, the vote was 49 in favor and 51 against, with every Senate Republican voting no, along with Bernie Sanders. Now, despite usually voting with the Democrats Sanders has been concerned about providing funds for Israel's current inhumane military strategy. Speaking about the vote President Biden said, make no mistake, today's vote is going to be long remembered. History is going to judge harshly those who turned their backs on freedom's cause. Additionally, a group of Senate Democrats held a press conference after the vote in which they argued that blocking the bill would send a message to US allies and adversaries that they do not stand with their international partners. Democrat Chuck Schumer said that he plans to try and break the deadlock by offering Republicans a chance to amend the bill to add in a commitment to funding border security. As of right now, no such amendment has been announced.
UN Declared War in Gaza is Global Threat
In a rare move this morning, the Secretary-General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, invoked article 99 of the UN charter over the current war in Gaza. Article 99 allows the Secretary-General to bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which, in his opinion, may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security. So, in essence, Guterres has declared that the war in Gaza is a global threat. His invocation of article 99 also calls a meeting of the Security Council. In a letter released on Twitter announcing the invocation, Guterres called for a humanitarian ceasefire in order to help avert a humanitarian catastrophe. If the ceasefire is agreed to by the Security Council, then the UN are able to implement it and are able to use sanctions or possibly even the deployment of an international force to enforce it. It's worth noting that the council's five permanent members so China, Russia, the US, the UK and France all have veto power. This comes as Arab states drafted a resolution that demands that Guterres calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. It's been speculated that this resolution will be voted on on Friday and will be introduced by the United Arab Emirates.
Ukraine Assassinates MP
Over to Russia now, where a pro-Kremlin former Ukrainian MP has been shot dead near Moscow by Ukrainian security service agents, according to officials. Ilya Khiva, a longtime opponent of President Volodymyr Zelensky, fled to Russia last year after facing a 14 year sentence for treason. Andriy Yusov, a spokesperson for Ukraine's military intelligence, told Ukrainian TV we can confirm Kyiv is no more. This fate will befell other traitors of Ukraine and puppets of Putin's regime. While Ukraine's SBU security service does not have a policy of claiming responsibility for assassinations, two officials with direct knowledge of the killing told the Financial Times that the SBU had carried out the operation. The killing of the 46 year old former politician is the latest in a series of assassinations against Ukrainian defectors and Russians involved in Moscow's invasion. Kyiv started as a member of the Ukrainian far right, then became a police official and unsuccessfully ran for president in 2019 as a member of the Socialist Party. He frequently published anti Ukrainian propaganda on social media, called Kiev's leadership Nazis and demanded that Zelensky resign. He was shot in a park in the Odinsovo region southwest of Moscow, where his body was found yesterday.
UK Immigration Minister Resigned
Rishi Sunak's leadership and immigration policy has today taken another blow, just weeks after the resignation of Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Now Sunak's immigration minister has decided to call it quits. Robert Jenrick has resigned as immigration minister, citing strong disagreements with the government's immigration policy. His resignation comes in the wake of the introduction of emergency legislation by Rishi Sunak to save the Rwanda deportation policy. Generic criticised the legislation for not allowing ministers to override international humanitarian laws that have so far prevented the UK government from implementing legislation. In a letter published on Twitter, Jenrick who was appointed to his position in October 2022, acknowledged that whilst the new legislation moved towards his position and Sunak has described it as the toughest piece of illegal migration legislation ever put forward by a UK government, Jenrick described it as a triumph of hope over experience, maintaining that the legislation will not stop the boats and will be challenged again and again in the courts. Sunak, in a letter to Jenrick, thanked him but said his resignation was disappointing and based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. The bill's introduction to the Commons is scheduled for today, with a substantive debate to follow next week.
Explosion in Seychelles
In other news, Seychelles has declared a state of emergency after a blast at an explosive store, wrecked buildings and caused huge damage to an industrial zone on the main island Mahe leaving three dead and several others injured. The explosion took place last night just after 2 a.m. local time, at a construction and quarrying company south of the capital, Victoria. Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan told reporters that the blast shook the island with heavy rain overnight, causing flooding which killed three people. Several others have also been evacuated from their homes. Footage broadcast on national television showed streets covered in deep mud and strewn with debris and uprooted trees. The international airport was also damaged, despite being four kilometres or two and a half miles away from the site of the blast. Schools are shut and hospitals are closed to all but emergency cases. Exceptionally heavy rain overnight has caused severe flooding and landslides and has increased pressure on the island's response teams. People have also been advised not to swim in the ocean due to sewage flowing out after the blasts.