US promises Ukraine military aid to make ‘real difference’ on the way

Ukraine’s president hails ‘crucial’ US aid package as Antony Blinken makes surprise trip to Kyiv.

Zelenskyy meets Blinken
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy greets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv [Brendan Smialowski/Pool via Reuters]

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken has promised Ukraine that aid that will make “a real difference” on the battlefield is on the way.

Blinken arrived in Kyiv on a surprise diplomatic visit on Tuesday to underline the support of the US. Political wrangling in Washington held up a military aid package that was finally approved in April. In the meantime, Russia has pushed to take advantage, launching huge barrages of missiles and opening a new front line in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

The trip is the first by a senior US official since the $61bn support was approved. Blinken met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and promised the US aid would make “a real difference against the Russian aggression on the battlefield”.

“The assistance is now on the way, some of it has already arrived and more of it will be arriving,” the US official promised.

“A strong, successful, thriving, free Ukraine is the best possible rebuke to [Russia’s President Vladimir] Putin,” he said, adding that Washington is “determined that over time, Ukraine stands strongly on its own feet: militarily, economically, democratically”.

Zelenskyy lauded the “crucial” US aid, stressing the country’s biggest deficit – air defence. He told Blinken that Ukraine needed two air defence batteries for the northeastern city of Kharkiv, being pummelled by Russian air raids.

“Civilians, warriors, everybody – they are under Russian missiles,” Zelenskyy said.

Antony Blinken getting off the train. He looks happy.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station in Kyiv [Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AFP]

Accelerating ‘the tempo’

Blinken’s visit is his fourth since Russia began its full-scale invasion in February 2022. He was last in the country in September last year.

On Monday, the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the US was trying to accelerate “the tempo of the deliveries” of weapons to Ukraine and reverse the disadvantage that resulted from Congress sitting on the aid package for months.

“The delay put Ukraine in a hole and we’re trying to help them dig out of that hole as rapidly as possible,” Sullivan said, adding that a new package of weapons would be announced this week.

Artillery, air defence interceptors and long-range ballistic missiles have already been delivered, some of them to the front lines, said the US official travelling with Blinken.

Russia occupies about 18 percent of Ukraine.

It launched a new offensive in the Kharkiv region on Friday, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people.

Source: News Agencies