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CIA director: Ukraine could lose war against Russia without US aid
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CIA director: Ukraine could lose war against Russia without US aid

The director of the CIA warned Thursday there is a “real risk that the Ukrainians could lose on the battlefield by the end of 2024,” in its war against Russia.

William Burns, speaking in Dallas at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, said, Ukraine is “running out of ammunition and we’re running out of time to help them,” a swipe at U.S. lawmakers who are holding up additional aid to Ukraine.

“With supplemental assistance from the U.S. Congress, I think the Ukrainians can hold their own on the battlefield in 2024 and continue to do damage” in Crimea and against the Black Sea Fleet, the CIA director said.

Without the aid, Burns said, “the picture is a lot more dire.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his evening address on Thursday the military is on track to produce 10 Bohdana howitzers this month. “This is a good result,” the president said, for the country’s production of defense materials.

The president said the talks with the military also included discussions about Ukraine’s border communities including the information field, topics that included access to Ukrainian television signals and the blocking of Russian propaganda.

Zelenskyy said Russian propaganda “is invariably followed by, at the very least, destabilization and, at worst, an attempted occupation.” He said Ukraine and its partners would “work together” to counteract any Russian influence and deal with any technological challenges.

Ukraine’s military said Thursday it shot down all 13 aerial drones launched by Russia in overnight attacks, while Russia’s military reported destroying 20 Ukrainian drones.

The Ukrainian air force said its air defenses intercepted drones over the Dnipropetrovsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kherson, Khmelnytskyi, Poltava, Ternopil and Vinnytsia regions.

Serhiy Lysak, the regional governor in Dnipropetrovsk, reported on Telegram damage to two homes, but no injuries.

Ivano-Frankivsk’s governor, Svitlana Onyshchuk, said on Telegram that falling debris from the downed drones started multiple fires.

The bulk of Ukraine’s aerial attack focused on the Belgorod region along the border between the two countries.

The Russian defense ministry said it destroyed sixteen drones and two missiles over Belgorod, where the regional governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, reported damage to a home and one person injured.

Russian air defenses also shot down three drones over the Rostov region and one more over Voronezh, the country’s defense ministry said.

Vasily Golubev, the governor of Rostov, said falling debris damaged an industrial building and injured one person.

G7 meetings

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven leading industrial nations were scheduled to discuss Russia’s war on Ukraine during a meeting Thursday in Italy, with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba taking part in the talks.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was set to join one of the sessions focused on support for Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly urged allies to provide more military support, particularly air defenses, to protect against Russia’s drone and missile attacks.

The U.S. State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken would also raise U.S. concerns about China’s support for Russia’s defense industry.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters Tuesday that over the past months, the United States has observed materials being transferred from China to Russia, which is using the materials to rebuild its defense industrial base and produce arms that are showing up on the battlefield in Ukraine.

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