US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unscheduled visit to Kyiv on Thursday as the Biden administration announced new military aid worth more than two billion US dollars (£1.7 billion) for Ukraine and other European countries threatened by Russia.
In meetings with senior Ukrainian officials, Mr Blinken said the Biden administration had notified Congress of its intent to provide two billion US dollars in long-term foreign military financing to Ukraine and 18 of its neighbours, including Nato members and regional security partners, that are “most potentially at risk for future Russian aggression”.
Pending expected congressional approval, about one billion US dollars of that would go to Ukraine and the rest would be divided among Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, the State Department said.
It would go to help those countries “deter and defend against emergent threats to their sovereignty and territorial integrity” by enhancing their military integration with Nato and countering “Russian influence and aggression”, the department said.
“This assistance demonstrates yet again our unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s future as a democratic, sovereign, and independent state, as well as the security of allies and partners across the region,” it said.
Foreign military financing, or FMF, allows recipients to purchase US-made defence equipment, often depending on their specific needs.
The financing comes on top of a 675 million US dollars (£588 million) package of heavy weaponry, ammunition and armoured vehicles for Ukraine alone that Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin announced earlier on Thursday at a conference in Ramstein, Germany.
That package includes howitzers, artillery munitions, Humvees, armoured ambulances, anti-tank systems and more.
Mr Austin said that “the war is at another key moment”, with Ukrainian forces beginning their counteroffensive in the south of the country.
He said that “now we’re seeing the demonstrable success of our common efforts on the battlefield”.
“The face of the war is changing and so is the mission of this contact group,” Mr Austin told the meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, which was attended by Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukraine’s defence minister, as well as officials from allied countries.
Thursday’s contributions bring total US aid to Ukraine to 15.2 billion US dollars (£13.2 billion) since Biden took office.