US Sees No Sign Its Weapons Are Going Astray

Russia blamed Ukraine for drone attacks in the Krasnodar and Adygea regions near the Black Sea but said they were repelled and damage was limited, Interfax reported.
Ukraine hasn’t claimed responsibility for incursions deep in Russian territory, which have become more common as the Kremlin’s year-old invasion has continued. Explosions were reported near an oil refinery in Tuapse, according to state news agency Tass. Outside Moscow, a drone crashed in the Kolomna region but didn’t cause any damage, Tass said.
Pentagon investigators have no proof yet that US weapons sent to Ukraine have fallen into the wrong hands, Robert Storch, the Defense Department’s inspector general, told House lawmakers.
US Sees No Signs Ukraine Weapons Are Falling Into Wrong Hands (6:50 p.m.)
“We have not substantiated any such instances” of US weapons going astray, Storch, the Defense Department watchdog, told the House Armed Services Committee, adding that the Pentagon has more than 90 investigators involved in overseeing US weapons aid to Ukraine. He said there are 20 ongoing and planned evaluations, including criminal units focused on fraud prevention.
The panel’s oversight hearing of military aid to Ukraine coincides with growing fault lines in Congress over continuing to pour money into defeating the Russian invasion. “We want to know that we can tell our taxpayers that their money is being spent wisely,” Republican Representative Scott DesJarlais said during the hearing.
Although the US lacks troops on the ground to check on weapons that are deployed, Ukrainians have been outfitted with scanners and software to track equipment, Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s policy chief, told the committee.
US Eyes Sanctions Evasion in Central Asia, Blinken Says (6:17 p.m.)
The US is closing monitoring Russia’s efforts to evade sanctions via Central Asia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Kazakhstan, highlighting concerns that Russia is receiving microchips and other technology through imports from its neighbors.
The Biden administration will provide an additional $25 million to help Central Asian states diversify trade relationships and export routes, Blinken said in the capital Astana, the first stop on a trip through Central Asia and India. Blinken spoke after meeting with the foreign ministers of the so-called C5 grouping of Central Asian states, which have long relied on Russian and Chinese trade.
Kazakhstan doesn’t want its territory to be used for sanctions evasion, Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi said, speaking alongside Blinken at a briefing.
OECD to Open Office in Ukraine (4:15 p.m.)
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is opening an office in Kyiv, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said after meeting its secretary general, Mathias Cormann. 
In May, the multinational body, which includes almost 40 countries, recognized Ukraine as a prospective member country. The new OECD office will coordinate efforts on the reconstruction and restoration of Ukraine, as well as the implementation of OECD tools, standards and recommendations in the country, Shmyhal said on Twitter. 
US GOP Senator Predicts Biden Reversal on F-16s for Ukraine (3:20 p.m.)
US Senator Dan Sullivan faulted President Joe Biden for blocking the transfer of F-16s to Ukraine and predicted he would reverse himself under bipartisan pressure as he has in the past on other weapons systems.
Sullivan, a Republican from Alaska who sits on the Armed Services Committee, said on Twitter he hosted Ukrainian fighter pilots at the Capitol last summer and wrote a letter to Pentagon leaders pressing them to approve F-16s. Administration officials have expressed concern in the past that the planes would widen the war and provoke Russia unnecessarily.
But Sullivan said the fighter jets were needed last year and certainly now. “Mark my words: As has been the case throughout this war, congressional pressure will continue, and in two to three months, the F-16s will be approved.”
Poland Won’t Buy Russian Oil in March, Premier Says (1 p.m.)
Poland plans to buy no Russian oil  — or “close to none” — in February and March, Premier Mateusz Morawiecki said at a press conference in Warsaw, citing information he received from state-controlled refiner PKN Orlen. The company stopped receiving oil via the Druzhba pipeline from Russia over the weekend. Russian oil accounted for about 10% of Polish supplies in recent months after the country rushed to slash imports following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ignitis Urges Sharing of ‘Additional Profits’ (12 p.m.)
Lithuania’s state-owned energy company Ignitis Grupe has written to rivals around the world appealing for them to follow its example and share about 10% of last year’s “hundreds of billions of dollars in additional profits” with Ukraine to help fund the rebuilding of the country’s energy infrastructure.
“We believe sharing profits with the country that is suffering the consequences of the war that has led to those profits is morally the right thing to do,” Chief Executive Officer Darius Maikstenas wrote in the letter to 57 firms, including Chevron Corp.Exxon Mobil Corp.Shell Plc and BP Plc. Ignitis Grupe’s contribution would be about 12 million euros ($12.7 million), the company said in a statement to shareholders.
War to Continue Through 2023: Latvia (11:30 a.m.)
Russia has the necessary resources to continue its war on Ukraine through this year, while the government in Kyiv has “the willpower” combined with “growing western support” to mount a successful defense, according to Latvia’s security service.
Ukraine could also gradually recover some occupied territory, the service said in its annual report, adding that Russia’s mobilization has still not provided enough troops to carry out attacks outside the eastern Donetsk region close to the frontier. The Kremlin isn’t ready for negotiations to end the war and any signals of such intent are a “bluff,” according to the report.
Europe Needs 2-3 Years to Replace Russian Gas (11 a.m.)
Europe has a lot more work to do before it can fully replace Russian natural gas and prices could rise again, according to Eni SpA Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi.
“It is going to take two to three years for Europe to be able to replace completely Russian gas,” Descalzi told Bloomberg TV. Europe’s total imports of the fuel from Russia this year will be about 60 billion cubic meters less than in 2022, Descalzi said.
Gazprom CEO in Tehran: Tasnim (11 a.m.)
Gazprom PJSC Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller arrived in Tehran on Tuesday for talks with Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji or his deputies, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. Miller plans to discuss a “road map for cooperation” for the Russian company in Iran’s energy sector, according to the report.
Russia Briefly Closes St. Petersburg Airport (10 a.m.)
Russian authorities briefly closed the international airport in St. Petersburg and the airspace in a radius of 200 kilometers (124 miles) around the city, citing an “unknown object,” state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
Tass, another state news agency, later said the restrictions had been lifted. Flights were diverted, but no further details were provided.
Zelenskiy Urges Allies to Ditch Warplane ‘Taboo’ (8 p.m.)
In his evening address, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said an attack by what he called “Iranian drones” that killed two emergency workers on Monday showed that Ukraine urgently needs the modern combat aircraft that the US and its partners have so far declined to provide to complement its air defenses.
“We will be able to fully protect the sky when the aviation taboo in relations with our partners is lifted,” Zelenskiy said. President Joe Biden has resisted sending Ukraine F-16 warplanes due to concerns the move could further escalate the war, and has highlighted other advanced weapons systems the US and its NATO allies have supplied.
Bakhmut Defense ‘Running Out of Options’ (8 p.m)
Ukraine’s defense of besieged Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region is running out of options, Zelenskiy said, after signaling last week his forces wouldn’t seek to hold the city at any cost.
“The enemy is gradually destroying everything which can be used to protect our positions,” Zelenskiy said in his address, stopping short of announcing a pullout.
‘We Do Want Ukraine to Win’: US (6:30 p.m.)
The US has every intention of helping Ukraine to achieve victory over Russia even though the Biden administration has resisted demands to supply F-16s, according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
“At no time have the Russians ever achieved air superiority over Ukraine,” Kirby said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. Ukraine’s greatest need currently is for air defenses and a better capability for combined-arms maneuvers ahead of an expected counteroffensive in the spring, he said, adding that “we do want Ukraine to win.”
Listen to our special conversations from last week marking one year of war, including our Twitter Space analyzing Zelenskiy’s press conference as it happened. We also discussed the military strategies of the war, the impact on energy and the environment, the effect of sanctions including on the wealth of Russia’s oligarchs and what the future holds for Ukrainian refugees.

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