Antony Blinken Makes Surprise Visit to Kyiv, Promises Weapons

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) greets US Secretary of State Antony Blinke
Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday morning by train, meeting President Volodymyr Zelensky and promising that “assistance is now on the way” after Congress passed the $95 billion foreign aid package in April.

Blinken is in Kyiv to “highlight the United States’ enduring support for Ukraine”, the State Department said on Tuesday, after the Secretary of State arrived in the country by overnight train, a necessity for foreign diplomatic visits as flying directly to Ukraine remains impossible.

The two-day trip is the first by an American government figure since Congress passed the foreign aid package in April, which of $95 billion in spending commits $61 billion to Ukraine. Upon meeting the Ukrainian President in Kyiv this morning, Blinken and attending journalists were told by Zelensky that what Ukraine wants most out of the United States is air defence systems, which he said were the “biggest deficit”.

Zelensky thanked Blinken but immediately made further demands, and said: “Really we need today two Patriots for Kharkiv, for Kharkiv region because there the people are under attack. Civilians, warriors, everybody they are under Russian missiles.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived Tuesday morning in Kyiv on an unannounced visit meant to reassure Ukrainians of continued US support and flow of weapons as Russia pummels the northeastern Kharkiv region. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / POOL / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kiev May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / POOL / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Eastern Ukraine and the Kharkiv region are under heavy attack by Russian forces, Kyiv says, with the nation’s second city coming under sustained air strikes. A Blinken official speaking to Agence France-Presse said of this fighting, and new weapon donations from the West to counter it: “[Russia is] clearly throwing everything they have in the east and expanding the fighting to Kharkiv… But we have a lot of confidence that the Ukrainians will increasingly be effective in pushing the Russians back as our assistance flows in both from the United States and other allies and partners.”

Blinken, for his part said: “We know this is a challenging time. But we also know 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… And that’s going to make a real difference against the ongoing Russian aggression on the battlefield”, Reuters reported.

The State Department itself outlined the purpose for Blinken’s visit, saying of his engagements: “to discuss battlefield updates, the impact of new U.S. security and economic assistance, long-term security and other commitments, and ongoing work to bolster Ukraine’s economic recovery. He will emphasize America’s commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and democracy in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression.”

Hinting again at America’s ambition to induct Ukraine into the NATO alliance —  a subject often discussed in Europe but with occasional concern over what this would imply, in terms of broader conflict with Russia — Blinken is also programmed to “address how the United States and other Allies and partners will help Ukraine achieve its goal of building a free, prosperous, and secure democracy – fully integrated into Europe and the Transatlantic Alliance.”



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