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In Kiev, Blinken said US aid comes at a “difficult” time for Ukraine

In Kiev, Blinken said US aid comes at a “difficult” time for Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a visit to Kiev on Tuesday that part of the large US aid package had arrived in Ukraine and that more was on the way to “make a real difference.”

Blinken’s trip is the first by a senior US official since Congress approved a long-awaited $61 billion aid package last month. Kiev’s outnumbered forces are facing a new Russian attack in the northeast of the country as well as attacks in the east.

“We know this is a challenging time,” Blinken said. “But we also know that help is already on the way in the short term, some has already arrived, and more will arrive.”

“It will make a real difference against continued Russian aggression on the battlefield.”

Ukraine regained control of much of the territory during the first year after the Russian invasion in 2022, but the Ukrainian counterattack failed last year, and in recent months Russia has regained the initiative on the front line.

Military aid from Washington, Kiev’s main backer, was withheld for months, and Republicans in the US Congress blocked it until they finally allowed a vote last month, when it was passed with bipartisan support.

Addressing Blinken in English, Zelensky said air defense supplies were “our biggest shortfall” as Russia had carried out long-range air strikes since March that hit electrical installations and caused power outages.

“We really need two Patriots today to Kharkiv, to the Kharkiv region, because the people there are being attacked. Civilians, warriors, everyone is being attacked by Russian missiles.”

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Blinken arrived in Kiev by train early Tuesday morning for a previously undisclosed visit, which comes days after Russia launched a ground incursion into the northern Kharkiv region, opening a new front and crushing Ukrainian soldiers.

Kiev has been at a disadvantage on the battlefield for months, as Russian forces have been advancing slowly, taking advantage of Ukraine’s shortage of manpower and artillery.

A US official, who briefed reporters traveling with Blinken on condition of anonymity, said the goal of the trip was “to send a strong signal of reassurance to the Ukrainians who are clearly going through a very difficult time.”

“The secretary’s job here is really to talk about how we implement our additional assistance in a way that helps strengthen their defenses (and) allows them to increasingly regain the initiative on the battlefield,” the official stated.

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