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Ukraine war

US top diplomat Blinken visits Ukraine to offer new military aid

US top diplomat Blinken visits Ukraine to offer new military aid
People kneel as they take part in a rally organized by the 'Association of Families of Defenders of Azovstal', in memory of the Ukrainian prisoners of war (POW) killed in a blast at a detention center in the village of Olenivka, Donetsk region in July, in Kyiv, Ukraine, 06 September 2022. EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

KYIV/RZESZOW, Poland, Sept 8 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Thursday and will announce $2 billion in new foreign military financing to Ukraine and 18 other countries deemed at risk of future Russian aggression, State Department officials said.

Blinken’s second visit to the Ukrainian capital since Russia’s February invasion comes as Ukraine reported progress in its effort to retake territory seized by Russia near Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv.

Blinken met Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, saw U.S. diplomats, and visited a children’s hospital, where he met youngsters injured from Russian bombardments.

A State Department official said approximately $1 billion would be allocated to Ukraine.

The rest would be divided among Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

The money is intended to defend sovereignty, modernize security forces, enhance partnerships with transatlantic military alliance NATO, and strengthen capacity “to counter Russian influence and aggression,” the official said by email.

The aid comes in the form of U.S. grants and loans that enable countries to purchase weapons and defence equipment made in the United States. It requires U.S. Congress to be notified.

Biden also approved a separate $675 million in weapons to Ukraine, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin announced earlier on Thursday as ministers met in Germany to discuss how to support Ukraine long-term.

The latest tranche of weapons will include more ammunitions, Humvees and anti-tank systems, officials said.

The latest aid brings total U.S. security assistance to Ukraine to $15.2 billion since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, the official said.

Blinken had travelled to Poland with reporters but officials did not allow media to accompany him into Ukraine, citing security reasons.

By Sergiy Voloshyn and Simon Lewis

(Reporting by Simon Lewis; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, William Maclean, Andrew Cawthorne)

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