US sends Ukraine cash that was seized from Russian oligarch

  • United States to provide $1.2 billion in new military aid to Ukraine, including air defenses and ammunition.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says it is “only a matter of time before we can restore a sustainable and just peace for our part of Europe, for Ukraine.”
  • Agence France-Presse journalist Arman Soldin was killed by rocket fire in eastern Ukraine where journalists were with a group of Ukrainian soldiers.

The U.S. said Wednesday that for the first time it has sent an unspecified amount, possibly millions of dollars, seized from the U.S. accounts of a Russian oligarch to Ukraine for use in its fight against Russia’s 14-month invasion.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland authorized the payment to the Kyiv government, money he said the U.S. seized from Konstantin Malofeyev, who had been blacklisted for violating sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. said he provided financing for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014.

“While this represents the United States’ first transfer of forfeited Russian funds for the rebuilding of Ukraine,” Garland said in a statement, “it will not be the last.”

Russia forcing out nuclear workers

Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear power plant operator warned Wednesday that Russia planned to evacuate 3,100 workers from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

Energoatom posted on Telegram that “there is now a catastrophic lack of skilled personnel” at the plant, which is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

Energoatom said workers who signed employment contracts with affiliates of Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom to operate the power plant are set to be taken to Russia along with their families. Energoatom didn’t say whether the employees would be forcibly moved out of the plant.

Russia has occupied the site since the early stages of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and fighting near the facility has occurred regularly.

Energoatom said the new evacuations of the Ukrainian personnel living in the town of Enerhodar “will exacerbate the already extremely urgent issue of having enough staff to ensure the safe operation” of the Zaporizhzhia plant.

The company said it will do its best to ensure safe operations by pulling together teams of staff who are in areas under Ukrainian control and specialists from other nuclear power plants in Ukraine.

The United Nation’s nuclear watchdog has repeatedly highlighted safety and security concerns regarding the Zaporizhzhia plant, both in regard to fighting nearby and the staffing situation.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi said Sunday that the situation around the plant “is becoming increasingly unpredictable and potentially dangerous.”

“We must act now to prevent the threat of a severe nuclear accident and its associated consequences for the population and the environment,” Grossi said in a statement. “This major nuclear facility must be protected.”

Some material in this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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