UNITED STATES/UKRAINE: The United States on Thursday approved an additional $2 billion in loans and grants for Ukraine and its neighbours to buy American military equipment, the State Department said.
The new aid from the Foreign Military Financing Program is in addition to a fresh $675 million in direct aid to Ukraine announced Thursday by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed Congress of $2 billion “to strengthen the security of Ukraine and its 18 neighbours, including … many of our NATO allies as well as other regional security partners potentially most at risk from future Russian aggression.” said a foreign ministry official on condition of anonymity.
The United States has already approved $4 billion in loans and grants to Ukraine and its neighbours in the fiscal year that ended in June.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv today to pledge $2 billion in new security aid, including support for what the Biden administration hopes will bolster a nascent Ukrainian counteroffensive aimed at pushing back Russian forces in the south and east.
Blinken’s second visit to the Ukrainian capital since Russia’s February invasion comes as Ukraine reported progress in its efforts to retake Russian-occupied territory near Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.
Blinken met with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, saw American diplomats and visited a children’s hospital where he met young people injured in the Russian bombing.
A State Department official said Blinken would use the trip to announce a $2 billion foreign military funding package, about $1 billion of which would be allocated to Ukraine.
The rest would be shared by Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The money is intended to defend sovereignty, modernise security forces, strengthen the partnership with the transatlantic military alliance NATO and strengthen the ability to “counter Russian influence and aggression,” the official said by email.
Aid comes in the form of U.S. grants and loans that allow countries to buy weapons and defence equipment made in the United States. Requires the US Congress to be notified.
President Joe Biden also approved a separate $675 million in arms for Ukraine, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced earlier Thursday as ministers met in Germany to discuss how to support Ukraine in the long term.
The latest tranche of weapons will include more ammunition, Humvees and anti-tank systems, officials said.
The latest aid brought total U.S. security assistance to Ukraine to $15.2 billion since Biden took office in January 2021, a State Department official said.
“All this security assistance (to Ukraine) is trying to ensure that Ukraine is successful in this counteroffensive,” said another State Department official, who briefed reporters in southeastern Poland ahead of the visit.
Blinken travelled to Poland with reporters, but officials did not allow the media to accompany him to Ukraine, citing security concerns.
Regaining territory currently occupied by Russia would put Ukraine in a stronger position in any future talks to end the war, a third State Department official said. “Right now, the Ukrainians don’t have a viable map to negotiate from,” the official said.
“That’s why we’re supporting this counter-offensive … to put them in the strongest possible position and for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to understand that after bleeding all this money, all this capital, all these weapons, all these young Russian boys, who were also chewed up along with the Ukrainians, that it’s time for him to come to the table in good faith.”
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