US top diplomat Blinken causes surprise visit to Kyiv

September 8, 2023: On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a unique support package for Ukraine worth over $1 billion during a surprise visit to the war-weary country.

The upcoming package, which includes $175 million for weapons, brings U.S. security assistance to over $43.2 billion since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbor. The Pentagon said the latest security assistance package will include depleted uranium tank ammunition for use with the stalwart Abrams tanks.

The Biden administration has also authorized $2.9 billion in humanitarian assistance and $20.5 billion in World Bank efforts for Ukraine.

Blinken’s two-day trip, which marks his fourth visit to the country since the war started in the previous year, included meetings with critical Ukrainian officials, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and his diplomatic counterpart Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Blinken’s trip comes amid a burst of battlefield gains recently by Ukrainian forces, who are carrying out a counteroffensive in the south and east of the country.

Last week, the White House said Ukrainian forces have made “notable progress” in southern Zaporizhzhia.

“Where they go from here, and how they exploit that success, I’ll leave it to them to discuss,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on a September 1. conference call.

Kirby declined to provide additional details, citing operational security risks.

The Kremlin claimed Blinken’s visit to Kyiv proved that the U.S. was willing to fund the war “to the last Ukrainian.”

“We have repeatedly heard statements that they intend to continue helping Kyiv for as long as it takes,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a press briefing Wednesday.

Russia has frequently framed the war in Ukraine as a proxy war with the West, blaming the roots of the conflict, which began after Russia invaded its neighbor in February 2022, on Ukraine’s Western allies.

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