US, Ukraine offer more military aid

US, Ukraine offer more military aid

The funds are reportedly intended to help Ukraine upgrade its weapons to NATO standards.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Ukraine on Sunday, where they promised more military funding and diplomatic support to the country amid the Russian offensive.

News outlets said reporters accompanying Washington's top diplomat and defense chief were barred from reporting on the trip until the officials left Ukraine because of security concerns.

President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the visit during a press conference on Saturday, but the US publicly confirmed that it had happened only on Monday.

After crossing from Ukraine to Poland, we had the opportunity to demonstrate our strong ongoing support for the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian people.

Austin said that the US has the mindset to help Ukraine win the fight against Russia.

The news agencies said that Austin and Blinken promised President Volodymyr Zelensky more than $322 million in new military aid. Washington will sell Ukraine up to $165 million worth of nonstandard ammunition. A US official was quoted as saying that it will provide support for the capabilities Ukraine needs, especially the fight in the Donbass.

This assistance will help Ukraine's armed forces transition to more advanced weapons and air defense systems, essentially NATO capable systems. The State Department official said the US diplomats would return to the city of Lviv in western Ukraine as the first step to reopen the embassy in Kiev as soon as possible. The White House will nominate Bridget Brink, who currently serves as ambassador to Slovakia, to serve as ambassador in Kiev. Since January, there has not been a confirmed US ambassador in Ukraine.

The US and its NATO allies are supplying Ukraine weapons, ranging from anti-tank and anti-aircraft missile systems to armored vehicles and howitzers. Russia attacked Ukraine late February, after Kiev failed to implement the terms of the Minsk Agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

In a statement from the Kremlin, the Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied that it was planning to retake the two republics by force.