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  • Writer's pictureTom Clinton | Aificial Editor Chief

Blinken visits Ukraine, says U.S. weapons will make a "real difference" as Russia pushes new offensive

 

Kyiv, Ukraine — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that American military aid on its way to Ukraine will make a "real difference" on the battlefield, as the top diplomat made an unannounced visit to reassure an ally facing a fierce new Russian offensive. In increasingly intense attacks along Ukraine's northeast border in recent days, Moscow's troops have captured around 40 to 50 square miles of territory, including at least seven villages, according to open source monitoring analysts.


Though most of those villages were already depopulated, thousands of civilians in the area have fled the fighting, and analysts have called it one of the most dangerous moments for Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.


President Volodymyr Zelenskyy renewed his longstanding, but possibly more urgent request for more air defense systems to protect civilians under Russian fire in the northeast as he met Blinken on Tuesday.


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stands in Independence Square, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, during an unannounced visit, in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 14, 2024.ALINA SMUTKO/REUTERS 

"We know this is a challenging time," Blinken said in the Ukrainian capital, where he met with Zelenskyy. But he added that American military aid is "going to make a real difference against the ongoing Russian aggression on the battlefield."


He made the case even as Zelenskyy appealed to him personally for more air defense systems to protect civilians under intense Russian fire in the northeast. Blinken also lambasted Russian President Vladimir Putin for underestimating Ukraine's determination to fight back.


"We meet at a critical moment," he told students at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. "The coming weeks and months will demand a great deal of Ukrainians, who have already sacrificed so much. I've come to Ukraine with a message: You are not alone."


"We sometimes hear that time is on Putin's side," Blinken said. "That Russia's bigger population, Putin's willingness to throw more Russians into the meat grinder of his making, and sink more of Russia's resources into trying to subjugate Ukraine means that Russia can't lose."


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Blinken also addressed new Ukrainian legislation that toughened penalties on draft dodgers and reduced the age of compulsory military service. He called it hard but "necessary," adding, "The defenders who have courageously held the line for more than two years need help -- and they need rest," AFP reported. 


The visit comes less than a month after Congress approved a long-delayed foreign assistance package that sets aside $60 billion in aid for Ukraine, much of which will go toward replenishing badly depleted artillery and air defense systems.


Some of that "is now on the way," Blinken said, and some has already arrived in Ukraine.

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