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Blinken announces $1B in US aid during surprise Ukraine visit

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $1 billion in aid for Ukraine while visiting Kyiv on Monday, with the majority of the funding focused on military and security assistance.

The top U.S. diplomat, visiting the country in a surprise visit, said he also held discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about long-term security arrangements that the U.S. and other countries have held up as stopgap measures on the lengthy road of Ukraine’s possible accession to NATO. 

Blinken said these long-term security arrangements are about helping Ukraine “build a force for the future, a military force of the future, that is capable of deterring future aggression, and if necessary, defending and defeating it.”

“We’re in the early stages of talking directly with Ukraine about what the different elements would be,” he said. “Other countries have similarly engaged or are beginning to engage in those conversations … that will play out over the coming months.”

Blinken made his remarks standing alongside Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who offered gratitude for the assistance.

“Today we learned one more time that the United States continued to be the leading partner and ally in the repelling of Russia, humanitarian, energy, military, everything that comes from the United States, we’re grateful for that,” Kuleba said. 

“Military aid that is provided to Ukraine, and financial aid — these are not charity. I would like to underline this one more time. This is the most profitable investment in the Euro-Atlantic space and the whole world. Today, Ukraine with the support of partners, we hold the advance of Russia from imposing their will on other countries.”

Blinken said an important part of his visit was to “listen very carefully to our Ukrainian partners” regarding what they need immediately, and to help Ukraine build “a military force for the future that is capable of deterring future aggression, and if necessary defending and defeating it.”

Still, the secretary said that the $1 billion tranche of funding and his conversations were focused on Ukraine’s immediate needs, describing its two-month counteroffensive against Russia as having accelerated over the past few weeks, breaking through dug-in Russian defenses and heavily mined territory. 

“This new assistance will help sustain it and build further momentum,” he said. 

Air defense support is a key part of the $1 billion tranche, which was announced on the same day Russia launched a missile attack on the east of Ukraine that killed 16 people, including a child, and wounded dozens more. 

“Russia’s weapons of war have killed hundreds of civilians and threatened to put millions at risk for years, even decades to come,” Blinken said. 

The U.S. is sending its first delivery of mine-resistant, ambush-protective vehicles to Ukraine’s border guards and police, providing assistance for demining to help clear Russian landmines, unexploded ordinances and other daily remnants of war killing tools, Blinken said. 

“Ukraine now is the world’s most heavily mined country; 30 percent of its territory is potentially covered with mines,” the secretary added.

Blinken added that U.S. Abrams tanks are expected to arrive in the fall, and he pointed to the U.S. beginning training of Ukrainian pilots on F16s in the U.S. as complementing training efforts in Europe and further laying the groundwork for long-term international commitment to Ukraine’s needs.

Another part of the package is $175 million from Department of Defense stockpiles, taken from a $6.2 billion surplus discovered in June. Weapons and munitions from this package include ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, Javelins, anti-armor systems and 120 mm depleted uranium tank ammunition for Abrams tanks, among other weapons and armaments.

The U.S. is providing $300 million to support law enforcement efforts to restore and maintain law and order in liberated areas. 

An additional $100 million will be provided as “foreign military financing” to support Ukraine’s long-term military needs.  

On economic and humanitarian assistance, the U.S. will, for the first time, transfer to Ukraine assets seized from sanctioned Russian oligarchs to be used to support Ukraine’s military veterans.

The U.S. is also providing $206 million in humanitarian assistance and emergency shelter for Ukrainians under incessant Russian missile attacks, the secretary said. 

Source: The Hill

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