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Blinken announces new $2 billion military aid to Kiev, but bans its use ‘outside Ukraine’

Kyiv (Ukraine), May 16: The Biden administration will send further military aid worth $2 billion to Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict with Russia, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday (local time). end of his two-day visit to Kiev, aimed at underscoring Washington’s support, the Washington Post reported.

Blinken said the $2 billion for Ukraine would come in the form of a “first-of-its-kind defense enterprise fund” that would channel aid to the country in the coming months.

The aid, in the form of new weapons systems and support for Ukraine’s defense industry, comes partly from a $61 billion package that the US Congress approved last month, while $400 million comes from a separate fund earmarked for general foreign defense assistance. , which is now being sent to Ukraine.

However, Blinken also emphasized that the Biden administration still opposes Ukraine attacking targets on Russian territory with U.S. weapons, something Ukrainian policymakers are pushing for with increasing urgency.

The visit coincided with the Russian military advance that put Ukraine’s defenses in an “extremely vulnerable” light.

Russia has carried out attacks in recent days on towns near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky canceled a planned trip to Spain on Wednesday as concerns grew over the latest Russian attacks.

“We did not encourage or enable strikes outside Ukraine,” Blinken told reporters on Wednesday at the end of his first visit to Ukraine since September.

“But ultimately, Ukraine must make its own decisions about how it is going to fight this war, a war it is fighting in defense of its freedom, of its sovereignty, of its territorial integrity,” Blinken said. “And we will continue to support Ukraine with the equipment it needs to succeed.”

In particular, Ukraine could use weapons from other countries, including the United Kingdom, to hit targets on Russian soil; the White House has banned the use of American equipment to hit Russian territory for fear of sparking direct military conflict with Russia, the Washington Post reported.

This has proven “frustrating” for Ukraine, especially in recent weeks, as the country witnessed a military build-up on Russian territory near Kharkov but found its ability to attack the country very limited, the report said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba appreciated the US assistance but also acknowledged the “difficulties” Kiev faced as a result of more than six months of “Congressional inaction” that preceded the approval of the aid in April.

“Any delay in supplies results in setbacks on the front lines. This is the general rule,” Kuleba said. “When a Ukrainian infantryman or artilleryman has everything he or she needs, we are winning. Every time there are supply delays and insufficient supplies, we are not winning. The laws of war are cruel but very clear.”

The report quoted analysts and US officials as saying that Russian forces do not appear ready to take the city of Kharkov, but are likely trying to create enough of a challenge there to draw Ukrainian military assets away from other frontline positions further south.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based independent research group, said the Russian attack on the northeastern Kharkiv region appears to have slowed, indicating it was likely an attempt to create a buffer zone on the border, and not an attempt to conquer the war. the city. It added that Russia continued to make small but steady gains further south, the Washington Post reported.

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