US Gives Priority to Air-Defense Missile Deliveries for Ukraine

 A Ukrainian soldier watches a self-propelled weapon fire at Russian positions (AFP)
 A Ukrainian soldier watches a self-propelled weapon fire at Russian positions (AFP)
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US Gives Priority to Air-Defense Missile Deliveries for Ukraine

 A Ukrainian soldier watches a self-propelled weapon fire at Russian positions (AFP)
 A Ukrainian soldier watches a self-propelled weapon fire at Russian positions (AFP)

The United States will prioritize deliveries of anti-air missiles to Kyiv, sending the desperately needed munitions to Ukraine ahead of other countries that have placed orders, the White House said Thursday.
“We’re going to reprioritize the deliveries of these exports so that those missiles rolling off the production line will now be provided to Ukraine,” particularly Patriot and NASAMS missiles, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
“Deliveries of these missiles to other countries that are currently in the queue will have to be delayed,” he said.
In a post on social media, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky commented on the latest decision.
“I am deeply grateful to US President Joe Biden for prioritizing Ukraine in the delivery of air defenses that we critically need to defeat Russian attacks,” he wrote.
Kirby said that deliveries to Taiwan – which is preparing for a possible invasion by China – and Israel, which is fighting a war against Hamas – will not be affected by the decision.
The United States has been a key military backer of Ukraine, committing more than $51 billion in weapons, ammunition and other security assistance since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.
The decision to fast-track the munitions to Ukraine “will increase their inventories more quickly to enable them to continue to defend that critical infrastructure and the civilian population as we go into the winter,” spokesman Major General Pat Ryder told journalists on Thursday.



Biden Battles COVID and Democrats as Crisis Grows

President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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Biden Battles COVID and Democrats as Crisis Grows

President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Joe Biden holed up at his beach house Thursday, battling both a bout of COVID and calls by senior allies for him to abandon his 2024 reelection bid.

While rival Donald Trump prepared for his star turn at the Republican National Convention, the 81-year-old US president found himself in both personal and political isolation.

The top Democrats in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, both reportedly met with Biden in recent days to warn that his candidacy threatens his party's prospects in November's election.

Influential former House speaker Nancy Pelosi added to his woes by privately telling Biden he cannot win and could harm Democrats' chances of recapturing the lower chamber, CNN reported.

Several party figures were meanwhile quoted anonymously by the Axios news outlet as saying that they believed the pressure would persuade Biden to drop out as soon as this weekend.

Biden has insisted he is not backing down, adamant that he is the candidate who beat Trump before and will do it again this year. Pressed about reports that Biden might be softening to the idea of leaving the race, his deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks said Thursday: “He is not wavering on anything.”

"He's staying in the race," Fulks told a press conference on the sidelines of the Republican convention in Milwaukee.

"Our campaign is not working through any scenarios where President Biden is not the top of the ticket -- he is and will be the Democratic nominee."

California Senator Alex Padilla said Biden was "not skipping a beat."

"I know having spoken to him personally he's committed to the campaign," he added.

Using mountains of data showing Biden’s standing could wipe out the ranks of Democrats in Congress, frank conversations in public and private, and now, the president’s own time off the campaign trail after testing positive for COVID-19, many Democrats see an opportunity to encourage a reassessment.

Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he was "doing well."

His COVID diagnosis however came at the worst possible time for his campaign, forcing him to cut short a trip to Las Vegas and isolate at his holiday home in Rehoboth, Delaware.

The split-screen with Trump could not have been more stark, with Trump set to formally accept the Republican nomination in Milwaukee.

US networks showed images of frail looking Biden gingerly descending the steps of Air Force One in Delaware, in a week when Trump is lauded by supporters each night at a packed party convention.

Former president Trump, who at 78 is just three years younger than Biden, is riding a wave of support from his party after surviving an assassination attempt on Saturday that left him with a bandaged ear.

The United States could now be approaching the climax of an extraordinary three weeks in politics, which started when Biden gave a disastrous performance during a televised debate with Trump.

Biden blamed jet lag and a cold, but the fact that America's commander-in-chief has now fallen ill for a second time just as fears grow about his fitness for the job has merely intensified the panic in Democratic ranks.