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U.S., Ukraine "largely aligned" on Ukraine defense needs -Blinken

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By Reuters
U.S., Ukraine "largely aligned" on Ukraine defense needs -Blinken
U.S., Ukraine "largely aligned" on Ukraine defense needs -Blinken   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

By Patricia Zengerle, Humeyra Pamuk and Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON – The United States and Ukraine are “largely aligned” on what military equipment Ukraine needs to continue its fight against the Russian invasion and what Washington can provide, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.

Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he discussed those needs with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy when the two met on his trip to Ukraine on Sunday with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the first official U.S. visit there since Russia’s invasion began on Feb. 24.

“I think we’re largely aligned in what they say they need and what we think we’re able to provide,” Blinken told a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He also said weapons were being delivered more quickly. In the past, Blinken said it “needed weeks” to get military equipment to the Ukrainians who needed it. Now he said, it often takes only 72 hours between President Joe Biden’s decision to send materiel and the time it is in the hands of Ukrainians who need it.

The United States has ruled out sending its own or NATO forces to Ukraine but Washington and its European allies have supplied weapons to Kyiv such as drones, Howitzer heavy artillery, and anti-aircraft Stinger and anti-tank Javelin missiles.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has asked repeatedly for heavier weapons in order to ward off what Russia refers to as a “special operation.”

Blinken also said U.S. diplomats were going back to the Ukrainian city of Lviv this week and that the department would begin to assess how they can most securely reopen the embassy in Kyiv.

Russia told the United States on Monday to stop sending more arms to Ukraine, warning that large Western deliveries of weapons were inflaming the conflict and would lead to more losses.