Home World US vows more aid as Austin, Blinken see Zelensky in Kyiv

US vows more aid as Austin, Blinken see Zelensky in Kyiv

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After a secrecy-shrouded visit to Kyiv, US secretary of state Antony Blinken and defence secretary Lloyd Austin said the United States approved a $165-million sale of ammunition for Ukraine’s war effort, along with more than $300 million in foreign military financing.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is committed to winning his country’s fight against Russia, US President Joe Biden’s top cabinet members said as they pledged the aid.

“He has the mindset that they want to win, and we have the mindset that we want to help them win,” Austin told reporters in Poland, a day after the three-hour face-to-face meeting with Zelensky in Ukraine.

President Zelensky described the talks as “encouraging” and “effective”.

Speaking in Monday’s video address, he said the US agreed “on further steps to strengthen the armed forces of Ukraine and meet all the priority needs of our army”. He noted that ramping up sanctions against Moscow also was on the meeting’s agenda.

The visit came as the war entered its third month, with thousands dead and millions displaced. The conflict has triggered an outburst of support from Western nations that has seen a deluge of weapons pour into Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters after the discussions, Austin said the US believes Ukraine can win the war against Russia if it has the “right equipment”. “The first step in winning is believing that you can win. And so they believe that we can win,” Austin said. “We believe that we can win, they can win if they have the right equipment, the right support.”

Austin went on to say that the US hoped the Russian military would be exhausted in Ukraine, preventing it from launching further invasions in the future.

For weeks, Zelensky has been seeking heavy weapons — including artillery and fighter jets — from western countries, vowing his forces could turn the tide of the war with more firepower.

“The priorities are weapons and support from the United States of America and our partners, European leaders, in terms of our army’s strength and support in certain areas,” the Ukrainian president said. “The second issue is the sanctions policy against the Russian Federation because of the full-scale invasion and all the terror they have committed in Ukraine.”

His calls appear to be resonating, with a host of NATO countries pledging in recent days to provide a range of heavy weapons and equipment to Ukraine, despite protests from Moscow.

The US has been a leading donor of finance and weaponry to Ukraine and a key sponsor of sanctions targeting Russia, but had not yet sent any top officials to Kyiv, while several European leaders had travelled there to underscore their support.

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

“We want to see Ukraine remain a sovereign country, a democratic country able to protect its sovereign territory,” Austin said.

The trip by Blinken and Austin was the highest-level American visit to the Ukrainian capital since the invasion in February.

“We had an opportunity to demonstrate directly our strong ongoing support for the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people,” Blinken said. “When it comes to Russia’s war aims, Russia is failing. Ukraine is succeeding. Russia has sought as its principal aim to subjugate Ukraine, to take away its sovereignty. That has failed.”

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