U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv and announced additional military aid to the war-torn country and a gradual return of U.S. diplomats to the country .
In the highest-level U.S. visit to the capital since Russia invaded the capital in late February, Blinken and Austin told Zelensky and his advisers on Sunday that Washington would provide more than $300 million in foreign military funding and had approved the sale of $165 million. Dollar ammo.
They also said U.S. President Joe Biden would soon announce his nomination as ambassador to Ukraine, while U.S. diplomats who left Ukraine before the war would begin returning to the country next week.
The U.S. embassy in Kyiv is temporarily closed.
Zelensky announced the visit of Blinken and Austin on Saturday, but the Biden administration declined to confirm it and to discuss the details of a possible visit, even though plans have been in the works for more than a week.
Journalists traveling to Poland with U.S. officials were not allowed to report until the end of their trip, accompany them on an overland trip to Ukraine, and were not allowed to say where in southeastern Poland they were awaiting the return of cabinet members.
State Department and Pentagon officials raised security concerns.
Austin and Blinken announced a total of $713 million in foreign military financing for Ukraine and its 15 allies and partners. Of this, about $322 million is earmarked for Kyiv.
“It will support the capabilities Ukraine needs, especially the fighting in Donbass,” a State Department official told reporters on condition of anonymity. “This assistance will also help the Ukrainian Armed Forces transition to more advanced weapons and air defense systems, primarily NATO capability systems.”
The rest will be allocated to NATO members and other countries that have supplied Ukraine with critical military supplies since the war with Russia, officials said.
This financing method is different from previous US military aid to Ukraine.
This is not a donation of DoD inventory, but cash that countries can use to buy supplies they may need.
Lviv day trip
The new funding, along with $165 million in sales of non-U.S.-made ammunition compatible with Soviet-era weapons used by Ukrainians, brings total U.S. military aid to Ukraine since the invasion to $3.7 billion, officials said.
Zelensky had urged Blinken and Austin not to return empty-handed.
U.S. officials said they believed the new aid would at least satisfy Ukrainians’ urgent plea for more help.
Officials said new artillery pieces, including howitzers, continued to be rapidly delivered to the Ukrainian army, which was being trained for use in neighboring countries.
On the diplomatic front, Blinken told Zelensky that Biden would announce the nomination of veteran diplomat Bridget Brinker as the next U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Brinker is a career diplomat and has been ambassador to Slovakia since 2019.
She previously served in Serbia, Cyprus, Georgia and Uzbekistan, as well as on the White House National Security Council. The position requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
Blinken also told Ukraine’s foreign minister that a small staff of the now-closed U.S. embassy in Kyiv had moved to Poland from a makeshift office in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv and would begin traveling to Lviv in the next few days for a “one-day mission”. tour”.
“There’s no substitute for that face-to-face contact, and there’s certainly a symbolic value to being back in this country,” the State Department official said.
The U.S. has also accelerated its review of the security situation in the capital, officials said, adding that the State Department will reopen the embassy there as soon as circumstances allow.
Biden has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of genocide for the destruction and death in Ukraine. Just Thursday, Biden said he would provide Ukraine with a new $800 million military aid package that includes heavy artillery and drones. The U.S. Congress last month approved $6.5 billion in military aid as part of a $13.6 billion spending on Ukraine and its allies in response to a Russian invasion.
Blinken plans to return to Washington from Poland, while Austin will travel to Ramstein, Germany, for a Tuesday meeting of NATO defense ministers and other donors.
The discussions will look at updates to the ground battlefield, additional security assistance to Ukraine and Europe’s long-term defense needs, including how to increase military production to fill the void created by the war in Ukraine, officials said.
More than 20 countries are expected to send representatives to the meeting.
Ukrainian officials at the meeting in Kyiv on Sunday were Zelensky, Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba, Defense Minister Oleksi Reznikov, Ambassador Oskarna Markarova, Presidential Palace Head Andrei Yermak, Defense Minister Valery Zaluzhny and Andrei Sibia of Zelensky’s office.
In addition to Blinken and Austin, the U.S. is represented by Deputy Chief of Staff Tom Sullivan, Senior Military Assistant Lt. Gen. Randy George and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper.