Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Kyiv in a show of US support as Ukraine’s armed forces continue a grinding counteroffensive against entrenched Russian positions.
(Bloomberg) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Kyiv in a show of US support as Ukraine’s armed forces continue a grinding counteroffensive against entrenched Russian positions.
The top US diplomat is set to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, as well as Ukraine’s foreign minister and prime minister, as the country’s military has begun making gains in its months-long campaign over the course of the summer.
Blinken’s trip comes en route to the Group of 20 summit in India, where Russia’s invasion of its neighbor will be a major topic, though President Vladimir Putin won’t be attending.
“We cannot allow that the temptation of returning to business as usual exists, once the war in Ukraine will end,” US Assistant Secretary Geoffrey Pyatt said at a conference in Bucharest, after saying Blinken had landed in Kyiv.
The secretary is expected to announce more than $1 billion in new US funding for Ukraine and will focus his trip on hearing from Ukrainian officials about the ongoing counteroffensive and what they need to reinvigorate their economy, according to a senior State Department official, who briefed a traveling reporter on the way into Ukraine.
This is his fourth visit to the country since the war began. On trips to Kyiv last year, the US announced fresh commitments or details, with total US security assistance to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February 2022 reaching $43.1 billion as of July.
The visit also comes as Zelenskiy has escalated a crackdown on corruption, which remains a major concern for allies as they continue to pour weapons and cash into Ukraine.
It’s not clear whether Blinken will also meet with Rustem Umerov, who Zelenskiy named to replace Oleksii Reznikov as the country’s defense minister following allegations of graft in military procurement by subordinates. Blinken met with Reznikov when he visited Kyiv in April of last year.
This week, Zelenskiy visited troops on Ukraine’s eastern front as his military reported more advances in the south, with the counteroffensive pressing ahead in an effort to punch through Russia’s defensive lines.
At the same time, Putin is set to have a rare meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Russia’s Far East, as the the US warns that Moscow is seeking more arms to fuel its war in Ukraine.
Pyatt, speaking at the Three Seas Initiative forum in Bucharest, said Europe must work together to end energy reliance on Russia.
“The job of the US administration is to make sure that Russia will never be considered a reliable energy supplier for Europe again,” he said. “The war has turned the US into the largest gas exporter in the world and I think this will continue for many years to come.”
–With assistance from Andra Timu.
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