U.S. Secretary of State in Kyiv: Help is 'On the Way'

This is Blinken's fourth visit to the Ukrainian capital since the start of Russia's war of aggression in February 2022. The trip should send a strong signal of support to the Ukrainians, who are apparently in a "very difficult" situatio

by Sededin Dedovic
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U.S. Secretary of State in Kyiv: Help is 'On the Way'
© Omar Havana / Getty Images

The new American military aid to Kyiv will soon arrive in Ukraine, announced U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The assistance is "on the way" and will make a "real difference on the battlefield," Blinken said during a meeting with the Ukrainian president in Kyiv on Tuesday (May 14).

Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated the call to strengthen Ukrainian air defense in light of Russian advances in the Kharkiv region. This is Blinken's fourth visit to the Ukrainian capital since the start of the Russian aggression war in February 2022.

The trip is intended to send a strong signal of support to Ukrainians, who are evidently "in a very difficult" situation, as formulated by a senior U.S. government official to journalists during the train ride to Kyiv. He also mentioned the fighting on the front lines in the east and Russian attacks on the Kharkiv region in northeastern Ukraine.

"However, we are confident that Ukrainians can more effectively repel the Russians with our help, with support coming from the U.S., as well as from other allies and partners," added the American official.

Offensive in the Kharkiv region

The Ukrainian army is currently under significant pressure.

The Ukrainian General Staff admitted on Monday that Russian forces had achieved "tactical successes." According to Ukrainian reports, Russian troops launched a ground offensive in the Kharkiv region from the direction of Russia on Friday.

The situation for Kyiv is tense as they have long awaited ammunition. Ukraine has been on the defensive for months, while Russian forces have slowly advanced, particularly in the Donbas region in the south, taking advantage of the Ukrainian lack of artillery shells and ammunition.

Russian military forces have a significant advantage both in terms of the number of soldiers and the amount of ammunition. Artillery, medium-range missiles (ATACMS), and air defense interceptors, approved by U.S. President Joe Biden on April 24, have already arrived in Ukraine.

"The minister's trip to Kyiv will also serve to discuss where to direct our additional assistance to strengthen Ukraine's defense, enabling it to regain the initiative on the front," said the American official to reporters.

U.S. Assistance

The United States has made several promises of assistance to Ukraine in recent weeks. This came after the U.S. Congress, in April, after months of blockade, approved $61 billion in military aid to Ukraine. In addition to talks with Zelensky, Blinken plans to meet with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, as well as with representatives of civil society.

He will also deliver a speech on the topic of "Ukraine's Strategic Success."

In this handout photo from the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) meets with a dele© Handout / Getty Images

U.S.

and Ukrainian Foreign Ministers, Anthony Blinken and Dmytro Kuleba, had lunch in Kyiv at a pizzeria run by military veterans from the war with Russia just before the meeting with Zelensky. Kuleba welcomed Blinken at the entrance to the pizzeria, where they greeted each other with a hug and had pizza for 40 minutes.

During that time, armed guards were at the restaurant's entrance. "As a connoisseur of pizza like most Americans, I think the pizza here is excellent. I highly recommend it!" said Blinken. Another topic to be discussed during the visit of the U.S.

Secretary of State to Kyiv is a bilateral defense agreement that the United States intends to conclude with Kyiv ahead of the NATO summit in July in Washington. Negotiations on the agreement are in the "final stage," announced the American official to reporters on the train.

Signal of "desperation" in Russia

"Our assessment is that this is another sign indicating Putin's desperate move to continue the aggressive war against Ukraine," commented Vedant Patel, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State on political and military changes at the top in Moscow.

The war heavily burdens the Russian economy, and Russian troops have suffered heavy losses, he said. "According to some estimates, they could have up to 315,000 casualties," Patel added. Russia, as he emphasized, "started this unprovoked war against Ukraine," and Putin, he says, can end it at any time by "withdrawing his units from Ukraine," concluded the representative of the U.S.

Department of State, as reported by DW. According to many observers, Russia's calculation is precisely to force Ukraine to regroup its troops and thus "stretch" them. The Russian offensive is not unexpected. In recent weeks, Russia has amassed troops in the border area.

However, Ukraine expected the Russian offensive to come later. Clearly, Russia is exploiting the weaknesses of the Ukrainian army, which lacks ammunition and manpower. The sudden visit of the U.S. Secretary of State aims to reassure Kyiv about Washington's military assistance, which has been stalled for several months due to disputes between the government and opposition in the U.S. Congress.

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