Ukraine has received a huge boost in its battle against Russia after a visit to Kyiv by high-level officials in a top secret and risky meeting.
Ukraine has received a huge boost in its battle against Russia after a visit to Kyiv by high-level US defence officials in a top secret and high-risk meeting.
As the war now enters its third month, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin announced the visit after leaving the battered country and entering Poland.
The pair travelled to Kyiv on Sunday by train from south western Poland but kept details of the trip brief. It is the first visit by high-level American representatives to Ukraine since Russia invaded,
Amid the meeting and as air raid sirens sounded across the country, they unveiled a new set of drastic plans to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Presidential Palace in a bid to “weaken” Russia, with new weapons to be delivered in days.
They said Russia continues to suffer significant military capability losses and “a lot of its troops quite frankly”.
“We had an opportunity to demonstrate directly our strong ongoing support for the Ukrainian government and for the Ukrainian people,” Blinken said at a press conference.
“This was, in our judgment, an important moment for us to be there, an important moment for Ukraine, for the war.”
“An important moment to have fact to face conversations in detail about the extraordinary support we have provided … as well as the massive pressure that we have been exerting on Russia.
“And then to talk in detail about how we carry that forward”.
He said Zelensky expressed “deep appreciation”, with pictures captured of the meeting showing hugs and handshakes all around.
“We expressed deep admiration for his leadership and for the extraordinary courage of Ukrainians in standing up to and pushing back Russian aggression.”
Blinken announced a major move that will see American diplomats return to Ukraine next week including new Ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink. She is currently the U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia. There is also talk of reopening the American embassy in Ukraine.
It comes despite continued Russian attacks on the besieged port city of Mariupol, Kharkiv and the entire Luhansk region, according to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
He confirmed Russia “continues to brutalise parts of the country” and the “death and destruction is horrific”.
Russia’s Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said in response that Moscow has sent a diplomatic note to Washington demanding the US stop sending military aid to Ukraine.
The United States has ignored the request, pushing forward with a massive US strategy, in combination with 30 other countries, “is having real results”.
“When it comes to Russia’s war games, Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding”.
“The bottom line is this: We don’t know how long the rest of the war will unfold but we do know that a sovereign, independent Ukraine will be around a lot longer than Vladimir Putin is on the scene.
“Our support will continue until we see final success”.
Austin gave more insights into the “productive” meeting, Describing how he told President Zelensky they will give Ukraine as “much as quickly as possible.
“Our focus was to talk about those things that will win the current fight and also build for tomorrow,” he said.
“We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.
“We want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability.”
Austin also informed Zelensky that the U.S. Department of Defence will expand military training for Ukrainian service members in the region on “certain weapons systems being provided”.
The United States also pledged another almost $1b in additional military aid; a total of $713 million for Ukraine and 15 allied and partner countries.
“More than $322 million in this obligation is for Ukraine and will provide support for the capabilities Ukraine needs as Russia’s forces train their focus on the Donbas; this assistance will also help Ukraine’s armed forces transition to more advanced weapons and air defence systems,” a statement from Blinken’s office said.
“This assistance will also help NATO allies with backfilling capabilities they have donated to Ukraine from their own stockpiles.
Originally published as US defence officials visit Kyiv for top secret war meeting, major moves announced