America’s European and Asian allies have significantly ramped up their efforts to support Ukraine. European Council President Charles Michel stated on February 6 that the European Council and Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the creation of a new single dedicated instrument – the Ukraine Facility – to pool the EU’s recently announced support package of 50 billion euros (about $54 billion) for Ukraine for 2024-2027. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated that the EU aims to start payments to the Ukraine Facility in March 2024.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on February 5 that Israeli operations have dismantled 18 of 24 Hamas battalions, rendering them “no longer [functional] as fighting military” organizations. Gallant and the IDF have not identified a precise definition for “dismantle." The IDF previously announced Israeli forces had “dismantled” all of Hamas’ battalions in the northern Gaza Strip on January 6. Hamas cells have continued attacks in the northern Gaza Strip after the IDF withdrew most of its forces on December 31.
Iranian-backed Iraqi officials are using recent US airstrikes targeting Iranian-backed Iraqi militias to retroactively justify their political pressure on the Iraqi federal government to expel US forces from Iraq. The United States has the right to respond and defend itself against these attacks from Iranian-backed groups in Iraq. Iranian-backed groups in Iraq are themselves violating Iraqi sovereignty by launching attacks from Iraqi territory targeting US forces, which are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government, and American assets elsewhere in the region.
US Senate negotiators unveiled their proposed supplemental appropriations bill on February 4 that — if passed — would provide roughly $60 billion of security assistance for Ukraine, the overwhelming majority of which would go to American companies and US and allied militaries. The bill provides three main packages of assistance to Ukraine totaling $48.83 billion: $19.85 billion for replenishing weapons and equipment from the US Department of Defense (DoD) inventory; $13.8 billion for the purchase of weapons and munitions for Ukraine from US manufacturers; and $14.8 billion for continued US support to Ukraine through military training, intelligence sharing, and other support activities. The appropriations bill provides that funds can go to foreign countries that have provided support to Ukraine at the request of the US, but the vast majority of the aid — if approved — would go to US companies and US or allied government entities supporting Ukraine. Roughly 16 percent of the Ukraine-related appropriations in the bill would go directly to Ukraine, including $7.85 billion of direct budget support for the Ukrainian government and $1.58 billion for efforts to build a self-reliant Ukrainian economy amid the ongoing Russian invasion. The appropriations bill also provides $1.6 billion in foreign military financing, which must be used to purchase goods and services from the US, to address Ukraine’s and other US partners’ air defense, artillery, maritime security, and maintenance requirements.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the frontline near Robotyne, Zaporizhia Oblast and the Ukrainian Eastern Air Command in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast on February 4. Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi and Ukrainian Commander of the Zaporizhia Group of Forces Brigadier General Volodymyr Horbatyuk reported to Zelensky about Ukrainian defensive operations in the Avdiivka direction, the situation near Robotyne and other areas of the front, and the arrangement of Ukrainian defensive lines. Zelensky also visited the Ukrainian Eastern Air Command and discussed measures to strengthen mobile fire groups and electronic warfare (EW) systems to repel Russian drone strikes, the use of Western and hybrid (Western-Ukrainian) air defense systems, and prospects for strengthening the capabilities of Ukrainian Eastern air defense groups.
Unspecified officials familiar with the hostage negotiations told the Wall Street Journal that divisions between Hamas’ leadership in the Gaza Strip and its exiled political leadership are impeding negotiations. The officials said that Hamas’ political leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, is prepared to accept a six-week pause in fighting and hostage exchange, but that Hamas’ exiled political leadership is calling for more concessions and a permanent ceasefire. Egyptian officials added that Hamas’ political leadership is also demanding the release of 3,000 Palestinian prisoners—including some who took part in the October 7, 2023 attacks—in return for 36 Israeli civilian hostages. Beirut-based senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan said on February 3 that Hamas and its allies rejected the six-week pause in fighting in a “united decision.” Hamdan added that Hamas and its allies are committed to a permanent ceasefire. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader demanded that any negotiations guarantee a “comprehensive ceasefire,” an Israeli withdrawal from and reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, and a “clear political solution.”
The Kremlin is doubling down on its support for Iran as the US conducts strikes to preempt attacks by Iranian-back proxies in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen against American and other targets. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) condemned the US retaliatory strikes against Iranian-backed militia positions in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen on February 3. The US launched a series of retaliatory airstrikes against targets in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen on February 2 and 3 following a January 28 drone strike by an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia that killed three US servicemembers in northeastern Jordan.
The February 2 US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria targeted Iranian-backed militia positions along the Euphrates River in Syria, the Iraq-Syria border, and south of Baghdad, Iraq. An anonymous US official told Politico that the United States struck all of its planned targets and several “dynamic targets that popped up as the mission unfolded,” including surface-to-air missile systems and drone launch sites. Two unspecified US officials also told the New York Times that the United States conducted unspecified cyber attacks targeting Iran on February 2.
The United States struck over 85 Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force and Iranian-backed militia targets in Iraq and Syria on February 2. The strike involved “numerous aircraft to include long-range bombers flown from [the] United States” using “more than 125 precision munitions.” The strikes targeted operations and intelligence centers, rockets, missiles, drone storage facilities, and “logistics and munition supply chain facilities” of the IRGC and Iranian-backed militia groups.
The Legislative Yuan (LY) elected Kuomintang (KMT) legislature elected Han Kuo-yu speaker of the legislature on February 1. Han received all 52 KMT votes and 2 others from independent legislators in the second round of voting. No candidate secured a majority during the first round. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) nominated incumbent Legislative Yuan Speaker You Si-kun, who received 51 votes from DPP legislators. You had been the speaker of the Legislative Yuan since 2020. The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) nominated one of its eight legislators, Vivian Huang, and voted unanimously for her. The TPP abstained in the second round of voting. Huang was an unexpected addition to the race, as the TPP had indicated that it would support the DPP or KMT in exchange for political concessions. The potential to secure the TPP’s backing fueled competition between the two parties to appease the TPP until the party announced Huang’s candidacy on January 31. The TPP’s last-minute participation in the LY speaker race caused controversy within the DPP, which viewed the move as an ultimatum to tear DPP support away from its candidate by those who advocated preventing Han’s victory at any cost.