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Blinken pledges US support for Ukraine in Kyiv visit

Voice of America
15 May 2024

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday the United States knows the urgency of the situation in Ukraine, and that Ukrainian forces will be getting the support they need.

During a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv, Blinken said the Biden administration is working to deliver as quickly as possible a new round of aid authorized in late April.

"I'm here in part as a show of support, but much more important than a trip or a visit is the fact that that support in very concrete terms is very much on the way," Blinken said.

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Kuleba said his country sees the U.S. stands by Ukraine, and that Ukraine "will be able to endure any hardships that Russia will try to impose on us."

"This is a very timely visit, because it sends a message of encouragement not only to the people of Ukraine but most importantly to the troops, to our soldiers who are heroically defending Ukraine in the south, in the east, in the northeast near Kharkiv where Russia tries to expand the war zone," Kuleba said.

Russia on Wednesday said its forces seized two more settlements in the Kharkiv region, where Russian forces have been intensifying their offensive.

The Russian push in northeastern Ukraine prompted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office to announce Wednesday the cancelation of all of his upcoming foreign visits.

Before their talks, Kuleba and Blinken laid wreaths at the Wall of Remembrance in Kyiv.

Russia's defense ministry reported Wednesday destroying 10 missiles over Russia-occupied Crimea, as well as nine drones and multiple missiles over the western Russian region of Belgorod and several drones over both the Kursk and Bryansk regions.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the regional governor of Belgorod, reported two people were injured and seven homes were damaged as a result of Ukrainian attacks.

Energy infrastructure under attack

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs or OCHA said Tuesday that several waves of attacks in the Kharkiv region over the past few days have killed and injured numerous civilians, including children.

"These attacks have triggered yet more displacement from border and front-line communities," OCHA's Lisa Doughten told the U.N. Security Council. "As of today, authorities report that over 7,000 civilians were evacuated from border areas of the Kharkiv region."

She said that since March, Russia has specifically targeted Ukraine's energy infrastructure, with the Kharkiv and Dnipro regions particularly affected. In April alone, the United Nations recorded 50 attacks that destroyed or damaged power generation plants and electricity substations, leaving millions across the country without power, water or cooking gas.

Doughten also expressed concern about what she said appears to be a new pattern of deadly attacks on railway infrastructure in Ukraine's east and south, with 10 such attacks in April in government-controlled areas.

"And we are alarmed by reports of attacks damaging energy infrastructure and oil refineries in the Russian Federation," Doughten added. "Such attacks risk inflaming the war further and worsening its humanitarian impacts."

Moscow's envoy dismissed the accusations, saying Russia's air force carries out high precision strikes only on facilities related to Kyiv's military capabilities. Vassily Nebenzia said life in Ukrainian cites is "proceeding normally, on the whole."

VOA's United Nations correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report. Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

The Voice of America provides news and information in more than 40 languages to an estimated weekly audience of over 326 million people. Stories with the VOA News byline are the work of multiple VOA journalists and may contain information from wire service reports.

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