Putin to visit Iran after cutting deal for drones; Zelenskyy rips Canada for sanctions waiver: Live Ukraine updates

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The U.S provided another $1.7 billion to ensure the Ukrainian government can continue operating and providing essential services such as health care by paying the salaries of healthcare workers.

Also Tuesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said a $1 billion EU contribution should reach Ukraine this month.

The U.S. contribution was made possible by “generous bipartisan support” from Congress, the U.S. Agency for International Development said. To date, USAID has provided $4 billion in direct budgetary support to the Ukraine government for core functions such as keeping electricity on to hospitals, schools, and other critical infrastructure, paying for humanitarian supplies and the salaries of civil servants and teachers.

“$1.7 billion is not just yet another financial support, it is an investment that makes us a step closer to victory,” Viktor Liashko, Ukraine’s minister of health, said in a statement.

Latest developments

►About 80% of the population in the Ukrainian-controlled part of Donetsk province have fled, the Ukraine government estimates. About 340,000 civilians remain. Russia controls about half the province and almost all of Luhansk. The two provinces make up the industrial Donbas region that Russia seeks to control.

►The death toll rose to 43 dead and the search continued in the rubble of a 5-story apartment building destroyed by Russian shelling in the Donetsk province city of Chasov Yar, Ukraine authorities said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Iran next week, the Kremlim announced Tuesday, one day after the Biden administration revealed that Tehran has agreed to provide Russia with “several hundred” drones.

Putin will meet with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has criticized sanctions imposed by the West against Russia.

On Monday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said intelligence indicates that Iran could train Russian forces on the drones, including some with military capability as soon as this month. He said it was unclear whether Iran has delivered any drones already. Sullivan, appearing at a White House press briefing, brought up Russia’s reliance on Iran for military equipment as an example of how Russia’s fighting in eastern Ukraine is “coming at a cost to the sustainment of its own weapons.”

Sales of new passenger cars in Russian are expected to decline 28% in 2022 and could drop as much as 50%, according to a report in the state-run media outlet Tass. The Trust Technologies auditing firm blamed increased sanctions pressure, declining imports and a “massive departure of players” as foreign firms leave Russia. Sales were forecast to include 227,000 cars from Russian brands, 688,000 foreign cars assembled in Russia and 175,000 imported cars. About 1.5 million new cars were sold in Russia last year.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Canada’s representative in Kyiv after Canada approved a sanction exemption to allow return of turbines to Russian that Moscow had blamed for a reduction of gas flows to Europe. The Canadian government said the deal would support Europe’s ability to access energy while the EU transitions away from Russian oil and gas. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the decision “absolutely unacceptable” and warned it will be perceived in Moscow as a reflection of weakness.

The United Nations on Monday said it will start monitoring the war in Ukraine for violations against children, including killings, injuries, recruitment, rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his annual report to the Security Council on children and armed conflicts in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Africa’s central Sahel region have been added to 21 conflicts that the U.N. already is monitoring for violations of the rights of children. He said the latter conflicts saw “a high number of grave violations” in 2021.

The U.N. chief said the protection of children was severely affected by escalating conflicts, the multiplication of armed groups, land mines and improvised explosive devices, explosive weapons in populated areas, intensified humanitarian crises and violations of humanitarian and human rights law.

Virginia Gamba, the U.N. special envoy for children and armed conflict, said at a news conference that “forays of extremely violent armed groups, military coups and instability, and violent electoral processes in fragile states, left 19,100 child victims of grave violations during 2021 in the 21 country and regional situations we monitored.”

Contributing: The Associated Press