Blinken Announces $2 Billion Defense Aid During Visit to Ukraine

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a $2 billion fund to help Ukraine on Wednesday as Russian forces continue to ramp up their assault on the country.

Mr. Blinken announced the foreign military financing during a press conference in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv alongside the country’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

The secretary of state said the aid is part of a “first-of-its-kind defense enterprise fund” and will be comprised of three separate components.

The first component will provide weapons to Ukraine “today,” the second will invest in Ukraine’s defense industrial base to further strengthen its production capacity for itself and others, and the third component will help Ukraine purchase military equipment from other countries—not just the United States—for its own use, according to Mr. Blinken.

Mr. Blinken’s announcement comes after lawmakers in Washington last month approved a $61 billion package of aid for Ukraine.

The Epoch Times has contacted the State Department for further comment.

Thousands Evacuate Kharkiv

Mr. Blinken’s visit to Ukraine came as Russian troops pushed deeper into the nation’s second-largest city of Kharkiv this week, prompting Ukraine to issue evacuation alerts for thousands of residents.

According to Oleh Syniehubov, the governor of Kharkiv Oblast, Russian forces are honing in on the town of Vovchansk, located roughly three miles from the Russian border.

Russian forces also attacked areas in the north near the Sumy region, striking the communities of Khotin, Bilopillia, Krasnopillia, Velyka Pysarivka, Nova Sloboda, Esman, Shalyhyne, Druzhbivka, Seredyna-Buda, and Znob-Novhorodske on Wednesday, according to a post by the Sumy Oblast Military Administration on the encrypted messaging platform Telegram.

Speaking during Wednesday’s press conference, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba stressed that every delay in supplies to the country “results in setbacks on the front line,” and urged the international community to “make new announcements” regarding financial and military support for Ukraine and “to deliver on them.”

“When a Ukrainian infantryman or artilleryman has everything that he or she needs, we are winning,” Mr. Kuleba said. “Every time there are delays in supplies and insufficient supplies, we are not winning.”

‘Renewed Brutal Russian Onslaught’

Mr. Blinken also acknowledged that Ukraine is in desperate need of additional support more than two years into Russia’s invasion, noting that all eyes are currently focused on the situation in the east and the northeast, particularly in Kharkiv.

The latest financial support—including the $61 billion package of aid—is coming at a “critical time,” he told reporters.

“Ukraine is facing this renewed brutal Russian onslaught, and we see again senseless strikes at civilians, residential buildings,” Mr. Blinken said, adding that he had also emphasized during a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier this week that Washington is working as fast as it can to get aid to the country.

“We’re rushing ammunition, armored vehicles, missiles, air defenses; rushing them to get to the front lines to protect soldiers, to protect civilians,” he said.

During Wednesday’s press conference, Mr. Blinken also stressed that while the United States remains a fierce ally of Ukraine and is steadfast in its commitment to ensuring it wins in the war against Russia, Washington has not “encouraged or enabled strikes outside of Ukraine.”

“Ultimately Ukraine has to make decisions for itself about how it’s going to conduct this war, a war it’s conducting in defense of its freedom, of its sovereignty, of its territorial integrity,” the secretary of state said. “We will continue to back Ukraine with the equipment that it needs to succeed, that it needs to win.”

Adam Morrow and Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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