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Ukraine rejoices over receiving tons of lethal weapons from US

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows Ukrainian forces taking part in the joint "Rapid Trident" military exercises with the United States and other NATO countries. (Photo by AFP)

The United States has provided Ukraine with tons of lethal weapons to boost the ex-Soviet republic against, what the West insists, is a pending Russian invasion.

On Sunday, Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced that the country had received a second consignment of weapons from the United States as part of military aid totaling $200 million that Washington had approved in December.

"The second bird in Kiev! More than 80 tons of weapons to strengthen Ukraine's defense capabilities from our friends in the USA! And this is not the end," Reznikov wrote on Twitter.

The first batch contained about 90 tons of "lethal security assistance," including ammunition, that reached Ukraine on Saturday.

Washington and its Western allies have cited a Russian military buildup near the border with Ukraine to accuse Moscow of planning an invasion.

Moscow has roundly rejected the allegations, saying the troop deployment is a response to NATO's eastward expansion and that it is free to move its forces about inside its own territory.

Also on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States and its European allies were prepared to make a "united response" against Russia if it invaded Ukraine.

The West has threatened sanctions with profound economic effects.

Blinken told CNN that if one single Russian soldier entered Ukraine in an aggressive manner, that would trigger a significant response.

However, he rebuffed calls from some US allies to immediately impose economic sanctions on Russia, saying that doing so now would not have the desired deterrent effect. 

"When it comes to sanctions, the purpose of those sanctions is to deter Russian aggression. And so if they are triggered now, you lose the deterrent effect," he told CNN on Sunday.

Washington's provocative moves and remarks come as it is also claiming that it is giving diplomacy a chance too.

Following a trip through Europe last week, Blinken said he had discussed two paths with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, one of diplomacy and one of what he described as continued Russian aggression.

"I tried to make clear both paths in my meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov in Geneva this week and we'll see if we can advance the diplomacy," the American top diplomat said.

"But even as we're doing that, we're preparing building up defenses, building up deterrence if Russia chooses the other path," he said in an interview with CBS News.


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