© Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meet in Kyiv
His secrecy-shrouded visit to Kyiv along with defence secretary Lloyd Austin was the highest-level American visit to the capital since Russia invaded in late February.
They told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his advisers that the US will provide more than 300 million dollars (£234 million) in foreign military financing and had approved a 165 million dollar (£128 million) sale of ammunition.
Mr Blinken told reporters near the Polish-Ukrainian border on Monday: “We had an opportunity to demonstrate directly our strong ongoing support for the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people. This was, in our judgment, an important moment to be there to have face-to-face conversations in detail.”
Mr Zelensky hailed the talks as “encouraging” and “effective”.
Speaking in Monday’s video address, he said the US is offering “powerful” support to his country. Mr Zelensky added that they agreed “on further steps to strengthen the armed forces of Ukraine and meet all the priority needs of our army”.
He noted that ramping up sanctions against Moscow was also on the meeting’s agenda.
Mr Austin said Mr Zelensky’s response to the aid was deep appreciation for what was being given but “he has the mindset that they want to win and we have the mindset that we want to help them win”.
The talks came as Russia unleashed a string of attacks against Ukrainian rail and fuel facilities on Monday, striking crucial infrastructure far from the front line of its eastern offensive, which Britain said has yet to achieve a significant breakthrough.
Meanwhile, two fires were reported at oil facilities in western Russia. It was not clear what caused the blazes.
When Russia invaded on February 24, its apparent goal was a lightning offensive that would quickly take the capital and perhaps even topple the government in Kyiv. But the Ukrainians, aided by Western weapons, bogged down President Vladimir Putin’s troops and…