Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Ukraine on Thursday for a secret trip, his third visit to the country since Russia launched its invasion in late February.
He landed in the country after an overnight flight and met his counterpart, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, just hours after Ukraine’s military chief publicly warned of the threat that Russia would use nuclear weapons in the conflict.
Later in the day, Blinken met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who presented him with a special medal awarded to people for distinguished service of the state.
At the meeting, Blinken announced a $675 million withdrawal of US weapons and equipment for Ukraine, confirmed earlier in the day by a senior State Department official. The 20th admission since September 2021, which Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin mentioned earlier Thursday in comments to allies in Germany, includes additional weapons, ammunition and equipment from US military stockpiles.
Blinken also announced that the State Department is informing Congress that it will make $2 billion available in long-term investments to bolster the security of Ukraine and 18 other neighboring countries, including many NATO allies.
In total, the Secretary will today announce $2.6 billion in additional security assistance to Ukraine and its neighbors. These announcements will bring total U.S. military aid to Ukraine to approximately $15.2 billion since this administration began. official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In the city of Irpin, near the Ukrainian capital Kiev, Blinken shook hands and spoke to local leaders near bombed-out, abandoned apartment buildings. Chrystyna Podyryaka, director of the National Police of Ukraine’s War Crimes Investigation Unit, told Blinken that they are investigating 30,000 recorded war crimes, including 20,000 directly related to the civilian population. Blinken reiterated the importance of holding Russia accountable and investigating war crimes.
Blinken’s visit follows a phone call last month with Kuleba, in which he reinforced US support for Ukraine’s defense needs. President Joe Biden later announced a $3 billion package to train and equip Ukrainian armed forces.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has mocked the West’s response to the war, saying on Wednesday that his country has “lost nothing” amid a host of sanctions targeting elites and services that helped finance the ongoing invasion.
Ukraine also faces nuclear concerns over the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe.
On Wednesday, Ukraine called on residents of the Russian-occupied areas around the power plant to evacuate for their own safety. Moscow and Kiev have accused each other of shelling the nuclear power plant, threatening a nuclear disaster.
Blinken’s trip comes about four months after visiting Ukraine with Austin. At the time, Blinken said they couldn’t visit much of Kiev or talk to many people for security reasons.