KYIV: The United States promised on Monday to reopen its embassy in Kyiv soon, as Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Ukraine’s capital and hailed its success so far against Russia’s invasion.
Both men said the fact they were able to come to Kyiv was proof of Ukraine’s tenacity in forcing Moscow to abandon an assault on the capital last month, and promised more aid to fend off Russian troops now attempting an advance in the east.
“What you’ve done in repelling the Russians in the battle of Kyiv is extraordinary and inspiring quite frankly to the rest of the world,” Austin told President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at a meeting overnight, after a train journey from Poland. “We are here to support you in any way possible.”
Blinken said, “The reason we’re back is because of you, because of the extraordinary courage, leadership and success that you’ve had in pushing back this horrific Russian aggression.”
US officials said they pledged new assistance worth $713 million for Zelenskiy’s government and other countries in the region. An extra $322 million in military aid for Ukraine would take total US security assistance since the invasion to about $3.7 billion.
Western arms for Ukraine have infuriated Moscow. Russia’s ambassador in Washington said Moscow had sent a diplomatic note stressing “the unacceptability of this situation when the United States of America pours weapons into Ukraine, and we demanded an end to this practice”.
The meeting between the US delegation and Ukraine’s leaders ran for three hours, or more than double the allotted time. “In terms of Russia’s war aims, Russia has already failed and Ukraine has already succeeded,” Blinken told a briefing in Poland after the two officials returned.
Russia has always denied intending to overthrow Ukraine’s government. Western countries say that was its aim from the outset but it failed in the face of Ukrainian resistance.
Blinken said US diplomats would first return to Lviv in the west and should be back in Kyiv within weeks. Despite Ukraine having repelled the assault on Kyiv, the war is far from over.
Russia has regrouped its forces and sent more troops in to eastern Ukraine. Last week it launched a massive assault there in an attempt to capture eastern provinces known as the Donbas.
Five railway stations came under fire in western and central Ukraine on Monday, causing an unspecified number of casualties. All of the country was placed under an unusually long air raid warning for two hours on Monday morning.
The United States and NATO allies have shown growing readiness to supply heavier equipment and more advanced weapons systems. Britain has promised to send military vehicles and is considering supplying British tanks to Poland to free up Warsaw’s Russian-designed T-72s for Ukraine.
In a daily update on the conflict, Britain’s defence ministry said Russia had only made minor advances in some parts of Donbas. “Without sufficient logistical and combat support enablers in place, Russia has yet to achieve a significant breakthrough,” it said.