Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Blinken visits Ukraine to tout U.S. support for Kyiv’s fight against Russia’s advances

By 37ci3 May14,2024



Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv on an unannounced diplomatic mission on Tuesday. Ukraine he has American support as well struggling to fend off ever-increasing Russian attacks.

“We know this is a difficult time,” said Blinken, who met with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the Ukrainian capital.

The visit comes less than a month after Congress approved a long-delayed foreign aid package of $60 billion for Ukraine, much of which will go toward replenishing weakened artillery and air defense systems.

Aid from the new package is “already on its way,” Blinken said, adding that some of it has already reached Ukraine.

According to him, this assistance will “make a real difference” on the battlefield, where the Russian army has taken the initiative in some regions against the depleted forces of Kiev.

Blinken, on his fourth visit to Kiev since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, will emphasize the Biden administration’s commitment to the defense and long-term security of Ukraine, US officials said. They noted that since President Joe Biden signed the aid package late last month, the administration has already announced $1.4 billion in short-term military aid and $6 billion in long-term support.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said he was “trying to accelerate the real pace” of US arms deliveries to Ukraine.

“What I would suggest is that the level of intensity that’s being demonstrated right now in terms of things moving is a 10 out of 10,” Sullivan told reporters at a White House briefing on Monday.

Artillery, anti-aircraft defenses and long-range ballistic missiles have already been delivered, some of them to the front lines, said a senior US official traveling with the secretary on an overnight train from Poland.

Speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity ahead of Blinken’s meetings, the official said Blinken would “send a strong signal of reassurance” to Ukrainian leaders and civil society figures he will meet during his two-day visit.

In a statement released after Blinken’s arrival, the State Department said he would hold talks with Zelenskiy and other senior Ukrainian officials to “discuss military updates, the impact of new U.S. security and economic assistance, long-term security and other commitments, and ongoing work.” To strengthen the economic recovery of Ukraine”.

The delay in US aid has caused deep concern in Kiev and Europe, especially since Israel’s war with Hamas began to preoccupy senior administration officials. Blinken, for example, has visited the Middle East seven times since the Gaza conflict began in October. His last visit to Kyiv was in September.

Blinken will also give a speech on Tuesday praising Ukraine’s “strategic successes” in the war, the US official added. It is meant to complement Blinken’s address last year in Helsinki, Finland, in which he mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin for Moscow’s strategic failures in starting the war.

But after the Helsinki speech, Russia stepped up its attacks, most notably when the US House of Representatives sat on the aid package for months without taking action, forcing the suspension of most US aid. Those attacks have increased in recent weeks as Russia seeks to take advantage of Ukraine’s lack of manpower and weapons while new aid is in transit.

On Monday, senior Biden administration officials and Ukrainian national security officials held a conference call “about the situation on the frontline, the capabilities they need most, and a real test of trying to say, ‘Get us this thing fast enough.'” It can be effectively defended against a Russian attack,” said Sullivan.

Zelenskyy said over the weekend that “fierce fighting” was taking place near the border in eastern and northeastern Ukraine as armed and outnumbered Ukrainian troops tried to repel a significant Russian ground offensive.

Ukrainian commanders and analysts say Kremlin forces intend to exploit Ukraine’s weaknesses before a major batch of new military aid to Kiev from the US and European partners arrives on the battlefield in the coming weeks and months. According to them, this makes this period a window of opportunity for Moscow and one of the most dangerous periods for Kiev in the two-year war.

Russia’s new push into the northeastern Kharkov region and the push into the eastern Donetsk region came after nearly 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) of frontline power advanced. Meanwhile, both sides used long-range strikes in what was largely a war of attrition.

Zelensky told Blinken that Ukraine urgently needs two Patriot air defense systems to protect Kharkiv.

Despite some recent setbacks, Ukraine can still score significant victories, a senior US official said. These include recapturing about 50% of the territory Russian forces captured in the early months of the war, improving its economic situation, and improving transport and trade links, at least partly due to its military successes in the Black Sea.

The official acknowledged that Ukraine faces a “tough fight” and is under “great pressure” but argued that Ukrainians will “become increasingly confident” as new US and other Western aid begins to increase.

On Sunday, Blinken said the months-long delay in aid had “no doubt” caused problems, but “we’re doing everything we can to get that aid out there.”

“It’s a difficult moment,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We are not going anywhere, and there are no more than 50 countries that support Ukraine. This will continue, and if Putin thinks that he will leave Ukraine and its supporters behind, he is mistaken.”



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