Updated May 14, 2024 - World

Blinken visits Ukraine as Russian forces step up Kharkiv assault

 Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens as Antheia co-founder and CEO Christina Smolke (out of frame) speaks in the fermentation room at the Antheia office in Menlo Park, California, on May 6, 2024.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Menlo Park, California, earlier this month. Photo: Jeff Chiu/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv on Tuesday as much-needed U.S. military aid began arriving in Ukraine.

Why it matters: Blinken's trip comes weeks after Congress passed a $61 billion aid package for Ukraine after months of stalling in a delay that U.S. officials said had hampered Kyiv's war efforts.

What they're saying: Blinken told President Volodymyr Zelensky in a meeting Tuesday that U.S. aid arriving in Ukraine will make "a real difference against the ongoing Russian aggression on the battlefield," according to a transcript released by the State Department.

  • "We're determined along with many other partners of Ukraine to make sure that you succeed on the battlefield," Blinken said. "We're equally determined that over time Ukraine stands strongly on its own feet militarily, economically, democratically."
  • "A strong, successful, thriving, free Ukraine is the best possible rebuke to Putin and the best possible guarantor for your future."

Zelensky told Blinken that Ukraine is in dire need of air defenses to counter Russian missile and drone attacks against civil and military targets across the country.

  • "Really we need today two batteries for Kharkiv, for Kharkiv region, because they are – the people are under attack," Zelensky said. "Civilians and warriors, everybody they are under Russian missiles."

The big picture: Russia's aerial attacks badly degraded Ukraine's electrical infrastructure this winter and killed or injured hundreds of civilians.

  • Russia in recent weeks has taken advantage of Ukraine's manpower and artillery shell shortages to make small territorial gains in the Donbas and Kharkiv regions.
  • Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said at a Monday morning briefing that U.S. military aid had begun reaching Ukraine.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comment from Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh, a transcript of Blinken's remarks and comments from Zelensky.

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