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US says rushing weapons to Ukraine amid fighting in Kharkiv

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba shake hands prior their talks in Kyiv, on May 15, 2024. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. is accelerating arms supplies to Ukraine as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s military confronts a Russian assault on the nation’s northeast.

Kremlin troops are attempting to push deeper into the Kharkiv region, taking control of some villages close to the border, after weeks of intensified air strikes against Ukraine’s second-biggest city. The offensive is stretching Ukraine’s forces and may push Kyiv to redeploy units from the long front line in the east.

“Everyone’s eyes are focused on the situation in the east and northeast, Kharkiv in particular,” Blinken told reporters in Kyiv Wednesday at a briefing with his counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba. “We’re rushing ammunition, armored vehicles, missiles, air defenses. Rushing them to get to the front lines, to protect soldiers, protect civilians.”

Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi is in the Kharkiv region to oversee the situation on the front, “making all decisions based on the overall situation,” said Serhiy Nykyforov, a spokesman for Zelenskyy. Additional forces have been sent to the northeastern region, according to the president’s office.

Zelenskyy himself has canceled all foreign trips scheduled for the coming days.

Ukrainian troops have “partially pushed out the enemy” from the town of Vovchansk in the Kharkiv region, the military said on Telegram. The General Staff also disputed a Russian claim to have recaptured Robotyne near the front line in the southern Zaporizhzhia region. The deserted village was the center of heavy fighting and one of three Russian lines of defense in the area last year.

Blinken, who was making a two-day trip to Kyiv, announced $2 billion in foreign military financing, using a first-of-its-kind Defense Enterprise Fund.

It helps Kyiv to buy weapons — including from other countries — and to invest in the Ukrainian defense industry. Foreign military financing typically is used only to purchase U.S.-made weapons and services. According to a State Department official, the $2 billion includes $1.6 billion from the supplemental spending package approved by Congress after a six-month delay and $400 million of previously unallocated FMF funds.

“When a Ukrainian infantryman or artilleryman has everything that he or she needs, we are winning,” Kuleba said. “Every time there are delays in supplies or insufficient supplies, we are not winning.”


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