February 28, 2024

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US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken praises Ukraine’s counter-attack during unannounced trip to Kyiv

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken praises Ukraine's counter-attack during unannounced trip to Kyiv

“It’s very early, but we are seeing clear and real progress on the ground, especially in the area around Kherson, but also some interesting developments in the Donbass, in the east,” the senior US diplomat told the press before leaving Kyiv by train. .

Blinkin’s visit to the Ukrainian capital – his second since the start of the war with Russia more than six months ago – coincided with the announcement of an additional $625 million in security aid to support Ukraine, on top of a long-planned $2.2 billion. Long-term investments to enhance the security of Ukraine and 18 other regional states.

In a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Blinkin attributed the success of the counterattack to the “incredible courage, resilience of the Ukrainians,” saying: “Basically, what this happens is, I think the reason for this success is that this is your homeland, not Russia. And they are fundamental to this grammar”.

In separate remarks at Ramstein Air Base in Germany following a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley described the advances made by Ukrainian forces near Kherson as “consistent” and “deliberate”.

“They keep fighting. They have the strength to do that and we’ll see how it goes,” Milly said.

Blinkin told the Ukrainian president that the United States was “very pleased to be able to support your efforts,” and later noted that the United States was providing Ukraine with “very accurate weapons… that would give them one chance to do what the Russians do. He might try to do 15 or 20 rounds.” .

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“We are determined to make sure they have what they need,” he told the press.

Blinken said he spent nearly two hours with the president and his team, describing it as “a very productive and meaningful day in many ways”.

In addition to his meeting with Zelensky, Blinkin also met his counterpart, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, visited the US Embassy, ​​and toured a children’s hospital and a war-torn suburb of Kyiv.

He saw for himself the devastation caused by the Russian occupation left in ruins When Ukrainian forces regained control in late March.

“I have been able to attest to the horrific attacks on homes and buildings clearly owned by civilians, where there is shelling, rockets and bullets. At best, it is indiscriminate. At worst, it is deliberate.” to reporters. “And I’ve been able to speak to people who are doing an amazing job gathering evidence of war crimes and atrocities and also those responsible for the city working to rebuild it.”

During his trip on Thursday, Blinken, accompanied by US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, visited the National Children’s Specialty Hospital Umtdtit in Kyiv and met children who were being treated there – including some of those wounded in the war. He also met Patron, a mine-sniffing dog who gained international fame.

Blinken introduced the Jack Russell terrier with dog treats, quipped that “since he’s already won a number of medals and awards, I thought he’d actually prefer something more usable.” He snapped photos in the hallway with the sweater-clad pup, who accompanied him as he toured the hospital.

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“We have a long history of working on demining,” Blinken said. “We are honored to work with you on this.”

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken holds a landmine solar dog Patron during his visit to the Children's Hospital in Kyiv.

The top US diplomat met several children receiving treatment in the hospital, including 6-year-old Marina, who lost part of her leg and has been in hospital since May after being injured in Kherson, and 13-year-old Katrina. He was wounded in an attack on the Kramatorsk railway station in early April and his mother was killed.

“We admire the courage and spirit of your children,” Blinken told the Chamber. “It sends a very strong message around the world.” “And it is an honor to meet you, to meet them, and to see the wonderful work of the doctors, the Minister, and the home of Ronald MacDonald, everyone. We are just glad to be able to help and to be a friend and partner.”

Austin and Blinken both visited Ukraine in late April. They still represent the highest level of US officials who have traveled to the country since the war began in late February. Many heads of state went to Ukraine to meet with Zelensky. US President Joe Biden has not traveled there yet, although the two leaders have spoken by phone in recent weeks.

According to the State Department, Blinken also briefly went to Ukraine when he met at the border with Kuliba in March.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Kylie Atwood, Eli Kaufman, Michael Conti, and Christian Sierra contributed to this report.