U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv on Wednesday in a gesture of help for Ukraine as its three-month-old counteroffensive in opposition to Russian forces grinds on with solely small beneficial properties.
Throughout his two-day go to, Blinken is more likely to announce a brand new bundle of U.S. wartime help price greater than US$1 billion, a senior State Division official advised reporters on the journey.
Blinken, the primary high U.S. official to go to Kyiv because the counteroffensive started in early June, started talks with International Minister Dmytro Kuleba and was attributable to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the official mentioned.
“We need to be sure that Ukraine has what it wants, not solely to reach the counteroffensive, however has what it wants for the long run, to be sure that it has a powerful deterrent,” Blinken mentioned standing alongside Kuleba.
“We’re additionally decided to proceed to work with our companions as they construct and rebuild a powerful financial system, sturdy democracy.”
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Media stories have cited unidentified U.S. officers as saying the Ukrainian counteroffensive has been too gradual and hindered by poor techniques – criticism that angered Ukrainian officers and prompted Kuleba to inform critics to “shut up.”
Ukraine has retaken greater than a dozen villages and small settlements in its offensive. However its push into Russian-held territory has been slowed by minefields and trenches, and Russian air strikes have continued throughout Ukraine, with Kyiv coming below assault solely hours earlier than Blinken’s arrival.
U.S. officers haven’t publicly criticized Ukraine’s army techniques, and final week mentioned they’d seen notable Ukrainian progress within the earlier 72 hours of its push within the southeast.
The State Division official mentioned Washington wished to debate how the counteroffensive was going and assess battlefield wants in addition to any steps that is likely to be required to shore up Ukraine’s vitality safety earlier than winter.
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“I feel what’s most essential is that we get an actual evaluation from the Ukrainians themselves,” the official mentioned. “We need to see, hear how they intend to push ahead within the coming weeks.”
Requested about Blinken’s go to, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned Moscow believed Washington deliberate to proceed funding Ukraine’s army “to wage this conflict to the final Ukrainian.” He mentioned U.S. help to Kyiv wouldn’t have an effect on the course of Russia’s ‘particular army operation’.
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Blinken’s go to follows the dismissal this week of Oleksii Reznikov who, as Ukraine’s defenCe minister, had lobbied Washington and its allies for arms to combat the Russian invaders. Parliament was anticipated to substantiate former lawmaker Rustem Umerov as his successor.
Throughout his prepare journey to Kyiv, Blinken additionally held talks with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen – coincidentally visiting the identical day. Blinken thanked Frederiksen for “Denmark’s management within the F-16 coalition of companion nations to coach Ukrainian pilots, and for its resolution to donate F-16 jets to Ukraine,” State Division spokesperson Matthew Miller mentioned.
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Denmark and the Netherlands introduced final month they’d provide greater than 60 U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine as quickly as pilots are skilled to fly them, the primary nations to supply the jets after profitable U.S. approval to ship them.
Regardless of staunch U.S. help for Ukraine to date since Russia’s invasion in February final yr, a number of Republican presidential hopefuls have questioned U.S. help, fueling issues over whether or not Washington will nonetheless again Ukraine on the identical degree as soon as the U.S. 2024 election marketing campaign intensifies.
The U.S. authorities has to date supplied greater than $43 billion in weaponry and different army help to Ukraine. A new bundle of safety help is ready to be introduced this week, Reuters reported on Friday.
U.S. President Joe Biden requested Congress in August to approve about US$40 billion in extra spending, together with US$24 billion for Ukraine and different worldwide wants.
The request may face opposition in Congress, the place some far-right Republicans – particularly these with shut ties to former President Donald Trump – need to pare again the billions in help Washington has despatched to Ukraine.