Austin with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited President Volodymyr Zelensky to provide more aid to Ukraine. They also announced the return of American diplomats to Kyiv.
After returning to Poland, the two ministers made firm statements. Neither of them has hidden the mission behind all Western arms shipments: defeating Russia. “We want Russia to be so weakened that it can no longer do what it did by invading Ukraine,” Austin said. They have already lost a lot of military capabilities. and many of their forces. We don’t want them to be able to rebuild all of that so quickly.
15,000 Russian dead
Austin’s British colleague Ben Wallace said about 15,000 Russians had been killed so far. Blinken: “Our assistance will continue and continue until we see results.” Last week, President Biden pledged $1.3 billion in arms and economic aid, including shipments of dozens of America’s heaviest rifles. On Sunday Blinken and Austin added another $713 million (660 million euros).
They also informed Zelensky that American diplomats would gradually return to the embassy in Kyiv, an essentially symbolic move of great importance. Blinken said he was pleased with the success of the past two months with the Western strategy of “enormous support for Ukraine, tremendous pressure on Russia, in solidarity with more than thirty countries.” It really paid off.
Thanks to all this help, Blinken said, Russia “failed” and Ukraine “succeeded” in reversing the invasion. Blinkin: Ukraine can win if it has the right weapons and the right support. Zelensky praised Americans on Monday for their “unprecedented” assistance and generosity. This helped not only Ukraine: “If democracy triumphs in one country, it will triumph throughout the world.”
The two ministers traveled to the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where talks were held on “what Ukraine needs”, with leaders of twenty countries and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Zelensky announced the arrival of Blinken and Austin on Saturday with a drum roll. This was in stark contrast to the absolute radio silence that followed. America refused to confirm the visit, and even when Blinken and Austin arrived, no word was leaked to the media, who were left in the dark for hours about whether the ministers would come to Kyiv.
Caution played a role. While Kyiv was safe, the Russian missile occasionally exploded, and the train they were on could also be a target. So walking with Zelensky on the streets of Kyiv, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walked, was out of the question.
Instead, the trio had a conversation for three hours, double the 90 minutes allotted for it. Only when the ministers safely returned to Polish soil on Monday morning did they hold a short press conference. Only then were the official photos of the visit distributed.
Russia accompanied the visit with a diplomatic protest and missiles. The Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, said on Russian television that the US government had again received a warning about the supply of weapons to Ukraine.
Attacks on Ukraine also continued unabated. Russian missiles struck the Azovstal complex in Mariupol, where the last Ukrainian army personnel had held out against Russian force majeure for more than two months, and where an unknown number of women and children took refuge. Five railway stations were also bombed.
The Ukrainian military command said that the Russians’ attacks on the railway infrastructure wanted to target the routes used to supply the West with weapons. According to the head of the Ukrainian Railways, the attacks on stations in the west and center of the country killed one person and injured four others.
The Moscow Defense Ministry claimed that the Air Force destroyed 56 military targets, including an oil refinery in Kremenchug. A major fire has broken out at an oil depot in the Russian city of Bryansk, about 100 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. The reason was not clear. Moscow accused Kyiv last month of launching a helicopter attack on an oil depot near Russia’s Belgorod, just across the border.
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