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Blinken promises Zelensky new US weapons will be game changer – media

The US Secretary of State is on a surprise visit to Kiev as Russian forces continue to gain ground near Kharkov

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reportedly informed Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky that Washington’s long-delayed military aid is now “on its way” and is expected to make a “real difference,” according to several media outlets.

Blinken arrived in Kiev on Tuesday morning for a previously undisclosed meeting with the country’s leadership. His visit marks the fourth time he has traveled to Ukraine and comes after Congress approved President Joe Biden’s $61 billion military aid package for the country last month. 

While no official statements have yet been released regarding Blinken’s meeting with Zelensky, the Associated Press and Reuters have reported he told the Ukrainian leader that “in the near term the assistance is now on the way, some of it has already arrived and more of it will be arriving,” adding that it is “going to make a real difference against the ongoing Russian aggression on the battlefield.”

According to BBC correspondent Tom Bateman, who is accompanying Blinken, Zelensky stressed during the meeting that Ukrainian troops have been through a “tough period,” particularly in the east, and thanked the secretary for the “crucial package” of military assistance.

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The Ukrainian leader reportedly highlighted the importance of receiving the US weapons as quickly as possible and reiterated demands for additional air defense systems, explaining that Ukraine had an ongoing deficit of such munitions, notably around Kharkov – Ukraine’s second-largest city – where Russian forces have been rapidly gaining ground.

A US official traveling with Blinken told reporters that the aim of the secretary of state’s visit to Ukraine is to “send a strong signal of reassurance to the Ukrainians who are obviously in a very difficult moment” and detail how US aid will help Kiev’s forces “take back the initiative on the battlefield.”

The Ukrainian general staff admitted on Monday that Russian forces have gained the upper hand in Kharkov Region after capturing multiple towns and villages in the area over the weekend.

Russia’s success on the battlefield has reportedly already prompted Ukraine to redeploy some of its forces from the Donbass front to Kharkov. Meanwhile, Western analysts have raised concerns that the Russian offensive could turn out to be a “nightmare for Kiev” and push it towards peace negotiations with Moscow.

May 14, 2024 at 03:59PM

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