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Blinken arrives in Kyiv to discuss counteroffensive, reconstruction with Ukrainian leadership

by Martin Fornusek September 6, 2023 2:42 PM 3 min read
U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba pay tribute to fallen Ukrainian soldiers at the Berkovetske cemetery, Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sept. 6, 2023. (Source: Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba/X)
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U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken is meeting the Ukrainian leadership as part of his two-day visit to Kyiv to discuss the counteroffensive and Ukraine's recovery efforts, the U.S. State Department announced on Sept. 6.

"Returned to Kyiv today to meet with our Ukrainian partners to discuss their ongoing counteroffensive, future assistance and reconstruction efforts, and above all, to reinforce the unwavering U.S. commitment to Ukraine," Blinken wrote on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

While the counteroffensive's relatively slow progress attracted criticism from Western observers, the campaign appears to have gained steam in the past days, with Ukrainian forces reportedly breaching through some of the Russian defensive lines in Ukraine's south.

"We want to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs, not only to succeed in the counteroffensive, but has what it needs for the long term, to make sure that it has a strong deterrent," Blinken said during the visit.

These efforts are likely to involve fresh assistance of more than $1 billion, including significant military aid. Blinken is expected to present the new package in Kyiv as part of his visit, CNN reported with reference to a senior official of the U.S. State Department.

Blinken arrived in Ukraine's capital the same day it came under a Russian missile strike in the early morning hours. The U.S. official was welcomed in Kyiv by Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, with whom he paid tribute to fallen soldiers at the Berkovetske cemetery.

"The Secretary became the first counterpart to begin his day in Kyiv by paying tribute to our fallen heroes at Berkovetske cemetery," Kuleba said.

"This is a sign of respect to all Ukrainian warriors who gave their lives for our freedom and the right to live."

According to the U.S. State Department, Blinken's itinerary further includes meeting President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

Ukraine's reconstruction and recovery efforts are also said to be a major topic in the talks between Blinken and Ukraine's leadership.

During the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London in June, the U.S. pledged a $1.3 billion assistance package to help restore Ukraine's power system and infrastructure, among other goals.

CNN noted that the visit of the U.S. top diplomat to Ukraine is an opportunity to align strategy ahead of the U.N. General Assembly later in September.

Citing a senior official traveling with Blinken, the outlet said that Ukraine has an important mission in the U.N. to explain the situation on the ground and the need for further support, while the U.S. leads the global effort to ensure this support.

This is Blinken's third trip to Kyiv since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion. He has previously paid a visit to the capital in April 2022 and September 2022.

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