Top U.S. officials said Monday they are committed to ensuring Ukraine defends its independence and is successful in repelling Russian aggression and will provide more support.
The trip by Blinken and Austin to Ukraine is the highest-level visit yet from President Joe Biden‘s administration. They were the third and fourth American officials to visit the country since the fighting began Feb. 24.
Blinken and Austin told Zelensky that the United States will give Ukraine $300 million in further military financing, along with $165 million in ammunition. Both were part of an announcement by Biden last week that pledged $1.3 billion in new aid for Ukraine. National security adviser Jon Finer said Sunday that more aid was coming this week.
“Ukrainians are standing up,” Blinken said, according to The Guardian. “They’re standing strong. And they’re doing that with the support that we have coordinated from literally around the world.
“The strategy that we’ve put in place, massive support for Ukraine, massive pressure against Russia, solidarity with more than 30 countries engaged in these efforts, is having real results. And we’re seeing that when it comes to Russia’s war aims, Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding.”
Blinken and Austin spent Sunday in Kyiv before returning to Poland. They said they want to see Ukraine remain democratic and capable of defending itself against Russian aggression.
“They discussed America’s stalwart support for the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian people, including through our significant assistance to Ukraine’s security, governance, economic and humanitarian needs,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
“Secretary Blinken also voiced renewed support for Ukraine’s efforts to end the Russian aggression through diplomacy and dialogue, noting that our continued support will strengthen Ukraine’s hand on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.”
Price confirmed that the United States would start sending diplomats back to Ukraine “as soon as possible” in a further show of support. The diplomats left Kyiv weeks ago following Russia’s invasion.
“This action will strengthen the department’s ongoing commitment to facilitate humanitarian relief efforts and the delivery of assistance to the government of Ukraine, while providing enhanced support to U.S. citizens,” Price added.
The White House on Monday announced it will nominate U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Bridget Brink to the same diplomatic post in Ukraine, a position that has been vacant for about three years.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials said Monday that Russia launched new missile and bomb attacks on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Resistance fighters have been hunkered down in the plant in recent weeks and repelling Russian forces attempting to take control of the key port city in southern Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed last week that his forces have taken Mariupol. He also said that Russian troops would not raid the steel plant because it wasn’t practical to do so.
Oleksandr Kamyshin, chairman of Ukraine rail company Ukrzaliznytsia, said Monday that the Russian military hit five railway stations in central and western Ukraine in an effort to “systematically destroy railway infrastructure,” according to CNN.
The British defense ministry said Russia has made “minor advances” in its attempt to take full control of the separatist-held Donbas region in the east.