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Third US plane loaded with arms lands in Kiev amid tensions with Russia

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)
Ukrainian ground crew unload weapons and other military hardware delivered by the United States military at Boryspil Airport near the capital, Kiev, on January 25, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

An American aircraft carrying military equipment and munitions has landed in Ukraine, carrying the third such arms shipments supplied to Kiev amid escalating tensions between the West and Russia.

Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine's defense minister, made the announcement on Tuesday and said the consignment was the third batch of US weapons under a $200-million security package pledged by Washington to Kiev over the past week.

"Our partners are increasing the amount of military assistance. And today we are meeting the third aircraft from the United States government as part of this assistance," Reznikov told reporters before the plane landed.

The United States has committed more than $650 million in security assistance to Ukraine in the past year and more than $2.7 billion in total since 2014, when the then-Ukrainian territory of the Crimean Peninsula voted in a referendum to fall under Russian sovereignty.

The second batch of US military equipment had arrived in Kiev on Sunday.

Several NATO members such as Britain, Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands have already sent consignments of weapons and warships to the region amid tensions with Russia over Ukraine.

Western governments accuse Russia of planning an invasion of Ukraine. Moscow rejects the allegation and insists that its border deployments are defensive in nature.

NATO announced on Monday that it was putting 8,500 forces on standby and reinforcing Eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets in response to the Russian military build-up at Ukraine's borders. Russia has said the risk of an offensive by Ukrainian troops against pro-Russia forces in the country's volatile east is "very high."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has accused Washington of escalating tensions with the deployment of forces in Eastern Europe, stressing that Moscow is watching US actions with great concern.

The US and NATO's latest provocations against Russia come while American and Russian diplomats have failed to make a breakthrough in talks to resolve the crisis over Ukraine, although they agreed to continue the talks.

Russia has demanded legally binding guarantees from NATO that it will halt its eastward expansion and return to its 1997 borders. Moscow also demands that the military alliance never admit Ukraine as a member.

Russia is awaiting a written response from the Biden administration this week to its list of security demands, some of which Washington has previously dismissed as "non-starters."

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