Recognition…Doug Mills/The New York Times
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, during a visit to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, on Thursday said he would inform Congress that the United States intends to send an additional $2 billion in long-term military assistance to Ukraine and 18 other countries. who are at risk of a Russian invasion.
Separately, President Biden has approved an additional $675 million in military assistance to Ukraine, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said.
The combined aid totals $13.5 billion in Biden administration aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February.
Mr. Blinken’s visit to Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was his second since the start of the Russian invasion. The State Department has not publicly announced his trip in advance for security reasons.
His visit comes as Mr. Austin meets with allied defense ministers at a monthly meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group, which aims to coordinate the flow of military aid to Ukraine. The arrival of Western equipment, particularly longer-range HIMARS missile systems, has enabled Ukrainian forces to attack Russian military infrastructure behind front lines and aided a counteroffensive in the south — although some military experts argue aid to date is insufficient to avert this War decided in favor of Ukraine.
“Ukrainian forces have begun their counter-offensive in the south of their country and they are integrating the capabilities that we have all deployed to help themselves fight and retake their sovereign territory,” Mr Austin said at the start of the meeting at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
“This contact group must position itself to provide long-term support to the brave defenders of Ukraine,” he said. “That now means the continuous and determined flow of skills.”
Russian forces are struggling to seize new territory but show no signs of retreating from the invasion, which US estimates have left tens of thousands of casualties on both sides and left vast areas of eastern and southern Ukraine in ruins. On Wednesday, President Vladimir V Putin delivered a defiant address, whitewashing the enormous toll of the war and the faltering performance of his army, and proclaimed at an economic conference in Russia’s Far East: “We have lost nothing and will lose nothing.”
In Germany, Mr Austin said the new weapons package included air-launched HARM missiles designed to seek out and destroy Russian air defense radar; guided multiple launch rocket systems, known as GMLRS; howitzers and other artillery; armored ambulances; and small arms.
The State Department said the $2 billion package, which will be drawn from pools of funds already approved by Congress but whose specific allocation requires Congress approval, would be split roughly half between Ukraine and 18 other nations. These are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The money will be used to “build the current and future capabilities” of the armed forces of Ukraine and other countries, including by strengthening their cyber and hybrid warfare capabilities, particularly to counter Russian aggression, the State Department said.
The money will also help integrate non-NATO members into the alliances’ armed forces.
On Thursday afternoon, Mr Blinken met with Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba. He previously visited the US embassy and a children’s hospital that treats children injured in Russian attacks.
Mr Blinken was also introduced to Patron at the hospital, a Jack Russell terrier who Ukrainian forces have credited with helping excavate hundreds of Russian landmines. Mr. Blinken declared the dog “world famous”.
Michael Croley and