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Blinken visits Ukraine, says Washington ready to fund war to 'last Ukrainian'

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (L) greets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kiev, Ukraine, on September 6, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Kiev needs a “strong deterrent” in its war with Russia, stressing that the United States is ready to fund the ex-Soviet republic to “the last Ukrainian.”

Blinken on Wednesday arrived in Kiev for a two-day visit amid Ukraine's grinding counteroffensive against Russian forces, and four hours after the latest Russian airstrike on the Ukrainian capital that reportedly led to no damage or casualties.

The US top diplomat, whose country is currently Ukraine’s strongest ally, is likely to announce a fresh package of US wartime assistance worth more than $1 billion, a senior State Department official told reporters on the trip.

Blinken is scheduled to hold talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and also is due to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the official added.

“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 standing alongside Kuleba.

“We’re also determined to continue to work with our partners as they build and rebuild a strong economy, strong democracy,” Blinken stressed.

Washington on August 29 announced $250 million in fresh military aid to Ukraine, naming the components as equipment for clearing mines and obstacles as well as missiles, artillery rounds, anti-armor missiles, and more than three million rounds of small arms ammunition.

Kiev has already received more than $43 billion from the US in the form of weapons systems like howitzers and millions of rounds of ammunition, including widely-banned cluster munitions, since last February when Russia started a "special military operation" in Ukraine.

A number of Republican presidential hopefuls have questioned the US aid to Ukraine, fuelling concerns over whether Washington will still support Kiev at the same level once the US 2024 election campaign intensifies.

In reaction to Blinken’s visit to Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that, “We have heard repeated statements that they (the Americans) intend to continue to help Kiev for as long as it takes.”

“In other words, they are going to continue to support Ukraine in a state of war and to wage this war to the last Ukrainian, sparing no money for this. That's how we perceive it, we know it. It's not going to affect the course of the special military operation,” Peskov added.

Russia has repeatedly warned that a continued supply of Western arms and military equipment for the Ukrainian military would only prolong the war.

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