KYIV: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced $100 million in new military aid to Ukraine during an unannounced visit to Kiev on Monday, pledging long-term American support amid growing concerns about the sustainability of vital US aid.
Austin announced the aid package after a day of talks with Ukrainian officials and said that the package included weapons such as anti-tank weapons and air defense interceptors.
Austin was photographed smiling and shaking hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, accompanied by the top US general in Europe. This was Austin’s first visit to Kiev since April 2022.
“The message I bring to you today, Mr. President, is that the United States of America stands with you. After an overnight train ride from Poland to Ukraine, Austin told Zelenskiy, “We will stay with you for a long time.”
USA announced that it will provide $425 million in new military aid to Ukraine
US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink said the visit showed Washington’s “unwavering support for Ukraine in its struggle for freedom.”
Zelenskiy told Austin that his visit was a “very important signal” for Ukraine.
“We count on your support,” Zelenskiy told Austin.
The United States has provided more than $44 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022.
The trip comes amid growing division in the US Congress over aid to Ukraine, with US presidential elections set for November 2024.
While US defense officials emphasize that Washington can support both allies at the same time, some American lawmakers prioritize aid to Israel.
Some senior Ukrainian officials have privately expressed concern that military aid deliveries may decrease; This reflects broader unease about the levels of support needed to continue the war against Russia.
New US military aid to Ukraine drives Washington deeper into conflict: Russia
Ukraine has a gap of more than $40 billion to fill in next year’s budget.
Provisional expense invoice
President Joe Biden last month asked Congress to approve more money for Ukraine. Its absence from the interim spending bill passed by lawmakers last week raised concerns that funding for Ukraine might never be allocated, especially after the Republican-led House of Representatives passed a bill that included aid to Israel but not Ukraine.
The vocal bloc of Republicans opposes sending more aid to Ukraine. Opponents of the aid say U.S. taxpayer money should be spent in their own countries, but a majority of Republicans and Democrats in Congress still support aid to Zelenskiy’s government.
The joint Ukraine-US military industrial conference, to be held in Washington on December 6 and 7, is aimed at increasing Ukraine’s domestic arms production as the war approaches two years.
Earlier in the day, Austin spoke with Department of Defense personnel at the U.S. embassy.
“When you think about the beginning of this, no one thought Ukraine could survive for more than a week. So here we are much later,” Austin said.
“Everyone now wonders why Ukraine can’t beat Russia, which is much larger and has much more capabilities. But think about this shift in mindset,” Austin added.
Russia currently controls almost a fifth of Ukraine. The West sent military equipment and Ukraine attempted a counter-offensive this year to retake occupied territory, but failed to make a major breakthrough.
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