UKRAINE: Antony Blinken, the United States Secretary of State, has made a surprise visit to Kyiv, marking his first trip to the Ukrainian capital in a year.
He is anticipated to unveil a new US assistance package worth between $175 million and $200 million during his two-day visit, according to an AP report, with a larger aid package exceeding $1 billion expected to be unveiled later this week, as per a senior state department official.
Blinken is scheduled to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as well as his counterpart from Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba.
The visit occurred shortly after President Zelenskiy dismissed his defence minister due to various corruption scandals related to military procurement, while Ukraine’s military counteroffensive continues in the southeastern region of the country.
The US media frequently cites unnamed US officials who criticise the counteroffensive as being sluggish and poorly planned, causing irritation among Ukrainian officials.
An anonymous US official told the media that Blinken intended to acquire a firsthand evaluation of the counteroffensive during the visit.
“What’s most important is that we get a real assessment from the Ukrainians themselves. We want to see and hear how they intend to push forward in the coming weeks,” said the official.
Hours before Blinken’s visit, Ukraine alleged that Russia initiated a fresh series of aerial assaults on the capital, during which Ukrainian air defences intercepted some of the missiles. Kyiv experienced loud explosions shortly before 6 a.m.
The head of the military administration in Kyiv, Serhiy Popko, posted on Telegram, saying, “Another missile attack by the enemy on a peaceful city. Authorities said that while falling debris had damaged structures, no one had been killed.
In the southern region of Ukraine, which has seen recent attacks by Russia on grain export facilities, the Odesa regional governor reported that a three-hour drone strike resulted in one casualty and significant damage to agricultural and port infrastructure.
Oleh Kiper said a badly injured agricultural company worker passed away in the hospital.