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Monday June 24, 2024

Zelensky hails US military aid as Blinken visits Kyiv

One civilian, a 47-year-old man, was also reported killed in the city of Nikopol in southern Ukraine

By AFP
May 15, 2024
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky seen in this undated photo. — AFP/File
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky seen in this undated photo. — AFP/File

KYIV, Ukraine: A new US weapons package is going to have an impact on the battlefield in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said, visiting Kyiv at a time when Ukrainian forces have faced setbacks at the front after a long delay in US aid.The US finally passed a bill in late April to provide military aid to Ukraine, held up for months by opposition from some Republicans in the US Congress while Russian forces took advantage of their superior firepower to launch an offensive.

“In the near term the assistance is now on the way, some of it has already arrived and more of it will be arriving,” said Blinken, during a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“And that’s going to make a real difference against the ongoing Russian aggression on the battlefield.”

Zelensky lauded the “crucial” US aid, and thanked Washington for bipartisan support. Blinken was on his fourth visit to Kyiv since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.After meeting Zelensky, he met Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Veterano, a pizzeria set up by a military veteran in the city centre.

Russia´s surprise ground offensive in the Kharkiv region has forced thousands to evacuate and pushed Kyiv to mobilise troop reinforcements. Ukraine said several civilians have been killed by Russian fire in the region, including on Tuesday two aged 80 and 83.

The governor of the Kharkiv region said 15 people were wounded by Russian strikes in the border territory´s largest city, also called Kharkiv.

One civilian, a 47-year-old man, was also reported killed in the city of Nikopol in southern Ukraine.

In a call to Zelensky, French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the “intensification of Russian strikes” and the Kharkiv offensive.

In Moscow, Russia´s defence ministry said on Tuesday its forces had captured another village in the Kharkiv region.

“Units of the North group of troops liberated the village of Bugruvatka in the Kharkiv region and advanced deep into the enemy defence,” the ministry said in a statement.

The advance is the latest in a string of tactical successes for Russia on the battlefield this year after initial setbacks in a conflict that Russia hoped would be wrapped up in a matter of days.

Russia´s incoming defence minister, economist Andrei Belousov, said that Moscow´s priority was to secure victory on the battlefield against Ukraine while minimising human losses.

“The key task, of course, remains achieving victory and ensuring the military-political goals of the special military operation, set by the president, are achieved,” Belousov told a session of the Russian parliament on Tuesday.

“In this respect, I want to especially emphasise ´with minimal human losses´.”

The Ukrainian army has acknowledged Russian successes in Kharkiv but Zelensky has stressed that reinforcements have been sent there and Ukrainian “counterattacks are ongoing”.