Blinken visits Kyiv as Ukraine’s counteroffensive faces challenges

Prime U.S. diplomat Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday in a gesture of help as Ukraine’s counteroffensive towards Russian forces grinds into its fourth month with solely small features.

Throughout his two-day go to, staying in a single day in Ukraine for the primary time since earlier than Russia’s February 2022 invasion, Blinken will seemingly announce a brand new bundle of U.S. help value greater than $1 billion, a senior State Division official mentioned in a briefing for reporters on the journey.

Blinken, on the primary journey to Kyiv by a high U.S. official because the Ukrainian counteroffensive started, is anticipated to satisfy President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and International Minister Dmytro Kuleba amongst different senior officers in addition to civil society figures, the official mentioned.

Media studies have cited unidentified U.S. officers as saying the counteroffensive has been too gradual and hindered by poor techniques, criticism that angered Ukrainian officers and prompted Kuleba to inform critics to “shut up”.

Ukraine has retaken greater than a dozen villages and small settlements in its offensive however its troopers’ push into Russian-held territory has been slowed by huge minefields and miles of trenches.

U.S. officers have been cautious to not publicly criticize Ukraine’s army techniques, and final week mentioned they’d noticed notable Ukrainian progress within the earlier 72 hours of its push within the southeast.

Washington wish to have a dialogue with the Ukrainians on how the offensive goes, assess the battlefield wants in addition to any steps that is likely to be required to shore up Ukraine’s power safety forward of the winter months, the official, talking on the situation of anonymity, mentioned.

“I believe what’s most necessary is that we get an actual evaluation from the Ukrainians themselves,” the official mentioned. “We wish to see, hear how they intend to push ahead within the coming weeks.”

Regardless of staunch U.S. help for Ukraine to date since Russia’s invasion, a number of Republican presidential hopefuls have questioned that assist, fueling issues over whether or not Washington will be capable of again Ukraine on the similar degree as soon as the U.S. 2024 election marketing campaign intensifies.

The U.S. authorities has to date supplied greater than $43 billion in weaponry and different army assist to Ukraine. A new bundle of safety help is about to be unveiled this week, Reuters reported on Friday.

Kyiv is hoping to obtain U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets pledged by quite a few NATO allies.

Blinken’s journey is meant to maintain the U.S. public targeted on the struggle and what the senior State Division official described as “dictators and autocrats not having the ability to chew off a chunk of their neighbour and get to maintain it with impunity”.

“So it’s additionally time to remind the American individuals why this issues,” the official mentioned.

Public help for serving to Ukraine has been sturdy however a latest CNN ballot discovered that simply over half of Individuals now oppose further funding for Kyiv.

President Joe Biden requested Congress in August to approve about $40 billion in further spending, together with $24 billion for Ukraine and different worldwide wants.

The request might face opposition in Congress, the place some far-right Republicans — particularly these with shut ties to former President Donald Trump — wish to pare again the billions in help Washington has despatched to Ukraine.