Blinken makes an unannounced trip to Ukraine, will commit $2.6 billion in security assistance to the region

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a news conference on the day of the NATO Foreign Ministers’ Informal Meeting in Berlin, Germany, May 15, 2022.

Michele Tantussi | Reuters

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Ukraine on Thursday for an undisclosed trip, his third visit to the country since Russia launched its invasion in late February.

He landed in the country after an overnight flight and met his counterpart, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, just hours after the head of Ukraine’s military publicly warned of the Russian threat to use nuclear weapons. personnel in the conflict.

“Another factor is the direct threat of Russia’s use of tactical nuclear weapons, under certain circumstances,” General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said in an article co-authored by lawmaker Mykhailo Zabrodskyi and published by state news agency Ukrinform.

Blinken is expected to announce a $675 million reduction in U.S. arms and equipment for Ukraine, a senior State Department official confirmed. The 20th troop withdrawal since September 2021, which Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin mentioned in a speech to allies in Germany on Thursday, will include additional weapons, ammunition and equipment from the depot. US military.

Blinken is also planning to announce that the State Department will notify Congress that it will spend $2 billion in long-term investments to strengthen the security of Ukraine and 18 other neighboring countries, including many of its NATO allies. , the official said.

“In total, the Secretary will announce $2.6 billion in additional security assistance to Ukraine and its neighbors today. These announcements will bring the total U.S. military assistance to Ukraine to approximately approx. $15.2 billion since the start of this administration,” the official said.

Blinken’s visit follows a call last month with Kuleba in which he increased US support for Ukraine’s defense needs. President Joe Biden then announced a $3 billion package to train and equip Ukraine’s armed forces.

Meanwhile, the President of Russia Vladimir Putin mocked the Western response to the war, saying on Wednesday his nation “loses nothing” amid a flurry of sanctions targeting elites and services that help fund the war. invasion is taking place.

Ukraine also faces nuclear concerns regarding Zaporizhzhia nuclear power Europe’s largest factory.

On Wednesday, Ukraine appealed to residents of the surrounding Russian-occupied areas power plant trees to evacuate for their own safety. Moscow and Kyiv accused each other of shelling the nuclear plant, which threatened to cause a nuclear disaster.

Blinken’s trip comes about four months after he visited Ukraine with Austin. At the time, Blinken said they were unable to visit Kyiv or speak to many people due to security concerns.

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