US to send diplomats back to Ukraine, provide more military aid

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The U.S. announced it would start sending diplomats back to Ukraine and provide more military aid as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Kyiv late on Sunday night, in the highest-level U.S. visit to the war-torn country since Russia invaded.

American diplomats will return to Ukraine as early as this week, starting with day trips into the western city of Lviv and eventually resuming a presence in Kyiv, according to a senior State Department official. The U.S. officials plan to inform Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that America has authorized the sale of $165 million worth of ammunition in addition to other funds to help the country’s forces, especially on the eastern frontier.

On Monday morning in Washington, President Joe Biden plans to formally nominate Bridget Brink, currently the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, to be its next envoy in Ukraine, the official said.

The visit comes with the war entering a new phase as Russia shifts its forces to the east and south after failing to take Kyiv or topple Zelenskiy’s government in the early weeks of the conflict. Ukraine has pressured the U.S. and its allies to send more powerful weapons to repel Russia from the eastern Donbas region, where Russian troops are seeking to gain full control of the besieged port of Mariupol.

Ahead of the visit, Zelenskiy praised accelerated weapons shipments that he said could help Ukraine step up its counteroffensive, but added the U.S. envoys “should not come here with empty hands.”

Biden last week pledged an additional $1.3 billion in weaponry and economic aid, adding to an $800 million package that included heavy artillery for the first time, as well as additional helicopters. The latest aid shipments will include dozens of howitzers and attack drones.

The U.S. president said, however, he would send a formal request to Congress for more funding needed to keep up shipments of military equipment and weapons to Ukraine. Congressional leaders said they would begin considering the funding package as soon as this week.




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