Blinken says Russia is failing in war aims and Ukraine is ‘successful’ after Kyiv visit

NEAR THE POLISH-UKRAINIAN BORDER (AP) — After a secret visit to kyiv, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia is failing in its war aims and “Ukraine is succeeding.”

The trip by Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was the highest-level American visit to the capital since the invasion of Russia in late February.

They told Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy and his advisers that the United States would provide more than $300 million in foreign military funding and had approved a $165 million ammunition sale.

“We had the opportunity to directly demonstrate our continued strong support for the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people. It was, in our view, an important time to be there to have face-to-face conversations in detail,” Blinken told reporters Monday near the Polish-Ukrainian border.

Austin said Zelenskyy’s response to help was a deep appreciation for what was given, but “he has the mindset that they want to win and we have the mindset that we want them to win. help win”.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, third from left, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, April 24, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Department of Defense via Associated Press

In footage later released by Ukraine’s presidency of the meeting, Blinken praised “the extraordinary courage and leadership and success you had in repelling this horrible Russian aggression.”

“We’ve gotten used to seeing you on video around the world, but it’s awesome, it’s good to see you in person,” Blinken said with a smile.

Blinken also said US diplomats returning to Ukraine would likely replace the consulate in Lviv, western Ukraine, before returning to the capital, Kyiv. They previously said diplomats would start returning this week. The United States Embassy in Kyiv will remain closed for the time being.

Austin at the press conference said the “world has been inspired” by Ukraine in the war and that America will continue its support. “What you did to repel the Russians in the battle for kyiv is extraordinary,” he said.

Zelenskyy had announced on Saturday that he would meet with US officials in Kyiv on Sunday, but the Biden administration declined to confirm this and declined to discuss details of a possible visit even though planning had been underway for more than a week. .

The reporters who traveled with Austin and Blinken to Poland were not allowed to report on the trip until its conclusion, were not allowed to accompany them on their overland journey to Ukraine, and were not allowed to specify where in southeastern Poland they waited for the Cabinet members to return. . State Department and Pentagon officials cited security concerns.

Austin and Blinken announced a total of $713 million in foreign military funding for Ukraine and 15 allies and partners; some $322 million is earmarked for Kyiv. The rest will be split among NATO members and other countries that have provided Ukraine with critical military supplies since the war with Russia began, officials said.

Such funding is different from previous US military assistance to Ukraine. This is not a donation of depleted stocks from the US Department of Defense, but rather money that countries can use to purchase supplies they may need.

The new funds, along with the sale of $165 million in non-U.S.-made ammunition compatible with Soviet-era weapons used by Ukrainians, bring the total amount of U.S. military aid to Ukraine to $3.7 billion since the invasion, officials said.

Zelenskyy had urged Americans not to come empty-handed. U.S. officials said they believe the new aid will satisfy at least some of Ukrainians’ urgent pleas for more help. New artillery pieces, including howitzers, continue to be delivered at a rapid pace to the Ukrainian military, which is being trained in its use in neighboring countries, officials said.

On the diplomatic front, Blinken told Zelenskyy that Biden would announce the appointment of veteran diplomat Bridget Brink as the next US ambassador to Ukraine. A career foreign service officer, Brink has been ambassador to Slovakia since 2019. She previously held positions in Serbia, Cyprus, Georgia and Uzbekistan as well as on the White House National Security Council. The position requires Senate confirmation.

Blinken also told Ukraine’s foreign minister that the small staff at the now-closed US Embassy in kyiv, which moved to Poland from temporary offices in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, would begin to do day trips to Lviv in the next few days. Officials said the United States has accelerated its review of security conditions in the capital and that the State Department will reopen the embassy there as soon as the situation allows.

Biden has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of genocide for the destruction and death inflicted on Ukraine. Last Thursday, Biden said he would provide a new $800 million military aid package to Ukraine, including heavy artillery and drones.

Congress last month approved $6.5 billion in military aid as part of $13.6 billion in spending for Ukraine and its allies in response to the Russian invasion.

From Poland, Blinken plans to return to Washington while Austin travels to Ramstein, Germany, for a Tuesday meeting of defense ministers from NATO and other donor nations.

This discussion will focus on battlefield updates from the ground, additional security assistance for Ukraine, and longer-term defense needs in Europe, including how to increase military production to fill the gaps caused by the war in Ukraine, officials said. More than 20 nations are expected to send representatives to the meeting.

Participating Ukrainian officials were Zelenskyy, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Defense Minister Olexiy Reznikov, Ambassador Oskana Markarova, Presidential Administration Head Andriy Yermak, Defense Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi and Andrii Sybiya of the Zelenskyy’s office.

In addition to Blinken and Austin, State Department Deputy Chief of Staff Tom Sullivan, Senior Military Assistant Lt. Gen. Randy George, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper represented the United States.


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