Ukraine Update: EU $5 Billion Aid Package To Ukraine, Russian Oil Exec “Falls” From Window – The European Union (EU) has agreed to release a new funding package of 5 billion euros ($5 billion US) for Ukraine, said diplomats involved with the plan. Sources said that the European Commission would formally propose the loan package early next week to help Kyiv cover salaries and benefits costs.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis also called for Europeans to stay the course and not succumb to “Ukraine Fatigue,” saying that even as governments and parliaments head off for a summer recess, “Russian troops have no plans to take free days from further attacking Ukraine.”
However, the EU is split on the components of the latest aid to Kyiv, which is part of a $9 billion package that was approved last May. Most of that $9 billion remains in limbo due to disagreement between the commission and member states over the details of the aid program. As always, the devil is in the details.
The EU’s largest donor, Germany, is opposed to the wording of the aid and wants to provide Kyiv with non-refundable grants, arguing that a higher debt for the Ukrainian government would further cripple the Ukrainian economy that is nearing default.
However, the EU insisted on including subsidies that do not have to be repaid, and the remaining part would consist of loans with higher guarantees provided by member states in case the Ukrainian economy defaults.
Russian Oil Exec, Critical Of Putin’s War, “Falls” Out of a Window:
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has resulted in a very high number of casualties, but not all of them have occurred on the battlefield. Eight of Russia’s oil executives have died under “suspect” circumstances since the war began.
The latest death was Ravil Maganov, the chairman of Lukoil, Russia’s second-largest oil producer, who reportedly fell out of a hospital window after a heart attack earlier. The Russian state-run news TASS as well as the government-run Television 1 channel both reported the death as the latest suicide by oil executives.
However, Reuters reported that three unnamed sources told them that they believe it highly unlikely that he committed suicide. Unsurprisingly, Maganov was critical of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Back in March, Maganov’s company posted a message urging the end of hostilities.
“The Board of Directors of LUKOIL expresses herewith its deepest concerns about the tragic events in Ukraine. Calling for the soonest termination of the armed conflict, we express our sincere empathy for all victims who are affected by this tragedy. We strongly support a lasting ceasefire and a settlement of problems through serious negotiations and diplomacy.
“In its activities, LUKOIL aspires to contribute to peace, international relations, and humanitarian ties.”
Russia’s playbook for anyone considered remotely against Putin’s policies is well-known and dates back to the former Soviet Union and the KGB, of which Putin was a part of.
Former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Rebekah Koffler, author of “Putin’s Playbook,” in an interview with Fox News, said that “we will never know exactly what happened to Maganov” but said his death was from the “standard Russian intelligence playbook” regarding the doctrine of “wet affairs,” also known as “wet work” referring to murders or assassinations.
“The ‘wet affairs’ are targeted assassinations,” Koffler said. “Russia and previously the former Soviet Union are known for orchestrating mysterious deaths of the Kremlin’s opponents. It’s done in various ways — shots in the back of the head, poisonings, forced suicides, and other intricate forms of violent death. I have a whole section in my book describing this doctrine and with examples of high-profile cases,” she added.
But the storyline kept changing among the state-run news outlets, perhaps deliberately so as to confuse the people and foreign news services.
“Interfax said he died, having fallen out of a window, and TASS wrote that it was suicide. Yet another paper speculated that he was trying to go out of a balcony to get a smoke. The truth is these tactics are designed deliberately to be stealthy so that no investigator could identify foul play. They are usually deemed ‘tragic accidents.’ Also part of the doctrine,” she said.
Other Oil Exec Deaths:
Leonid Shulman,60, who served as the head of the transport service for gas giant Gazprom, was found dead in the bathroom of a cottage in the village of Leninsky, outside of St. Petersburg. The Russian media group RBC reported his death but did not cite a cause.
Another Gazprom executive, Alexander Tyulakov, was found dead in the same village as Shulman, this time in a garage the day after Russia’s invasion. The Russian state-run media outlet Novaya Gazeta said investigators found a suicide note near his body.
Just three days later, Mikhail Watford, a Russian gas billionaire living in England, was found hanged in the garage of his country estate. At the time, investigators reportedly said Watford’s death was “unexplained.”
In mid-April, the former vice president of Gazprombank, Vladislav Avayev, was found dead in his Moscow apartment. His death, along with his wife and daughter, was ruled a murder-suicide.
The next day, Sergei Protosenya was found along with his wife and daughter in another murder-suicide, according to police. He was a former deputy chairman of Novatek, Russia’s largest liquefied natural gas producer. However, his son Fedor insisted that his father was not a killer and could never harm his family.
“My father is not a killer. He loved my mother and especially Maria, my sister,” he said. “She was his princess. He could never do anything to harm them. I don’t know what happened that night, but I know that my dad did not hurt them.”
Although not a Russian oligarch, another Russian senior official with the Putin regime was found shot in his home in late June under mysterious circumstances. Vadim Zimin, 53, who used to carry the briefcase with Putin’s nuclear codes, was discovered by his brother “in a pool of blood” at his home near Moscow.
Alexander Subbotin, a former Lukoil executive, was found dead in the basement of a country house near Moscow. TASS reported that the room where he was found was allegedly used for “Jamaican voodoo rituals,” quoting local police
Yury Voronov, the CEO of a shipping contractor that works with Gazprom’s Arctic projects, was found dead of a gunshot wound in the swimming pool of his home in the same elite St. Petersburg gated community where Shulman and Tyulakov died earlier in the year.
Expert Biography: Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. A proven military analyst, he served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer in the 7th Special Forces Group. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.