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Blinken visits Kyiv as thousands of Russian troops advance on Kharkiv

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy greets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken prior to their meeting in Kyiv, 14 May 2024
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy greets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken prior to their meeting in Kyiv, 14 May 2024 Copyright Brendan Smialowski/AP
Copyright Brendan Smialowski/AP
By Euronews with AP
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Over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reported intense clashes near the eastern and north-eastern borders of the country, where Ukrainian troops are facing more substantial firepower and are outnumbered as they continue to fight off Russia's ground offensive.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Tuesday to express Washington's support in light of the escalating Russian aggression.

This diplomatic mission follows US Congress's recent approval of a much-needed foreign aid package totalling €55 billion, a significant portion of which will go to Ukraine's defence capabilities, particularly its artillery and air defence systems.

This marks Blinken's fourth visit to Kyiv since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. During this visit, Blinken aimed to highlight the Biden administration commitment to Ukraine's defence and long-term security objectives. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, walks to board a Ukrainian Railways train at Przemysl Glowny train station while traveling to Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, 13 May 24.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, walks to board a Ukrainian Railways train at Przemysl Glowny train station while traveling to Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, 13 May 24.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AP

Since the late enactment of the aid package by President Joe Biden, the administration has promptly announced €1.3bn in immediate military assistance and allocated €5.5bn for longer-term support in efforts to fortify Ukraine's defence infrastructure.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan expressed the administration's intentions to hurry the pace of weapon shipments to Ukraine, emphasising the heightened intensity of logistical efforts. 

Aid delays prove costly as Russians push toward Kharkiv

The US State Department's statement following Blinken's arrival said he would meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other top Ukrainian officials “to discuss battlefield updates, the impact of new US security and economic assistance, long-term security and other commitments, and ongoing work to bolster Ukraine’s economic recovery.”

Delays in aid delivery, partly due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, raised concerns in Kyiv and Europe, as Russia used the aid stall to intensify its attacks and gain terrain. 

Over the weekend, Zelenskyy reported intense clashes near the eastern and north-eastern borders of Ukraine, where Ukrainian troops are facing stronger firepower and are outnumbered as they continue to fight off Russia's ground offensive. 

Ukrainian commanders and analysts suggest that the Kremlin’s forces are relying on Ukrainian vulnerabilities before they receive a large amount of new military assistance from the US and European allies in the upcoming weeks and months. Many consider this a window of opportunity for Moscow and one of the most perilous periods for Kyiv in the ongoing two-year conflict.

Blinken said that despite a few recent setbacks, it is not too late for Ukraine to make a comeback. Including retaking half of the territory initially seized by Russian forces in the early stages of the conflict, enhancing its economic stability, and strengthening transportation and trade connections through military achievements in the Black Sea region.

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