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Zelensky lauds US aid package for Ukraine, as he asks for air defences

President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the US for aid during a visit by top diplomat Antony Blinken.

President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the US for aid during a visit by top diplomat Antony Blinken. Photo: AFP/Getty

A new US weapons package is going to have an impact on the battlefield in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said while visiting Kyiv at a time when Ukrainian forces have faced setbacks at the front after a long delay in US aid.

Washington finally passed a bill in late April to provide military aid to Ukraine, held up for months by opposition from some Republicans in the US Congress while Russian forces took advantage of their superior firepower to launch an offensive.

” … In the near term the assistance is now on the way, some of it has already arrived and more of it will be arriving,” said Blinken, during a meeting with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

“And that’s going to make a real difference against the ongoing Russian aggression on the battlefield.”

Zelensky lauded the “crucial” US aid, and thanked Washington for bipartisan support.

He said Ukraine’s biggest deficit for now was in air defence, telling Blinken Kyiv needs two Patriot air defence batteries for the north-eastern region of Kharkiv, being pummelled by Russian air strikes.

“Civilians, warriors, everybody – they are under Russian missiles, Zelensky said.

The Ukrainian president said he also wanted to discuss security guarantees with the US, in addition to asking Blinken to rally support from more countries at an upcoming high-level peace summit set to take place in Switzerland in June.

Ukraine repelled Russian troops from the outskirts of Kyiv and seized back swathes of occupied land in the first year following Russia’s 2022 invasion.

But a counter-offensive launched in 2023 fizzled, and recent months have seen Moscow make slow but steady gains at the front.

Kyiv says it hopes renewed commitments of Western arms will allow it to reclaim the initiative on the battlefield and recapture some of the fifth of its territory still occupied by Russia.

“We’re equally determined that over time, Ukraine stands strongly on its own feet: militarily, economically, democratically,” Blinken said.

“A strong, successful, thriving, free Ukraine is the best possible rebuke to Putin.”

-Reuters

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