Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky greets USA Secretary of State 
Antony Blinken in Kiev on May 14, 2024 (Photo by AFP) 



USA Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced visit to Kiev 
to reaffirm his country’s support for Ukraine, amid a new Russian operation
in the northeastern Kharkiv region.  Blinken arrived in the Ukrainian capital
on Tuesday by overnight train from Poland.  He met with Ukrainian President
Volodymyr Zelensky, during which he claimed that the flow of weapons will
“make a real difference.” "In the near term, assistance is now on its way 
and that will make a real difference against the Russian aggression
on the battlefield," Blinken told Zelensky at the start of their meeting.

Zelensky, for his part, said that Blinken had come during “a tough period for
the east of our country.” The Ukrainian leader thanked Blinken for the “crucial”
$60.8 billion aid package for his country that President Joe Biden signed last
month but added that Ukraine was still in need, pointing to the Russian military
advances around Kharkiv in recent days.  Russian troops launched the operation
against the Kharkiv region on Friday, capturing several villages.  Russia's
defense ministry said its troops had "improved the tactical position and dealt a
blow to (Ukrainian) manpower" around border villages, including Lyptsi, and the
town of Vovchansk.  A senior US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity,
told reporters aboard the train from Poland that the aim of the trip "is to send
a strong signal of reassurance to the Ukrainians who are obviously in a very
difficult moment both with grinding battle on the Eastern Front but also with
the Russians now expanding some cross-border attacks into Kharkiv." 

Blinken’s two-day visit comes just weeks after the US Congress approved the
long-delayed $61 billion financial aid package for Ukraine after months of
political wrangling.It's Blinken's fourth trip to Kiev since Russia launched a
“special military operation” in Ukraine in February 2022.  This comes as US
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has told reporters a new arms package
would be announced "in the coming days." Russia launched the military operation
in Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Western countries have responded to the Russian
military operation by backing Ukraine with cash and heavy weaponry while
imposing unprecedented sanctions on Russian officials and entities.  Moscow has
repeatedly warned that such a flow of weapons to Kiev will only prolong the

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