The United States restores its diplomatic presence in Ukraine and offers more military and economic aid | International

American diplomacy returns to Ukraine. This is how the Secretaries of State, Antony Blinken, and of Defense, Lloyd Austin, have made it known to the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski this Sunday, during a 90-minute meeting in kyiv, in which the United States offered money and weapons to the Ukraine’s request that the visit be translated into concrete responses. Blinken and Austin are the highest-ranking members of the Joe Biden Administration to set foot in the country since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24. His lightning trip, taken in great secrecy from Washington, ended with the announcement of a cash aid package of more than 700 million dollars (653 million euros), 332 million for military financing, while another 400 million were They will go to 15 neighboring countries and partners of Ukraine that have been helping with the shipment of military equipment, in addition to having received more than five million refugees in the last two months.

In a message broadcast via Telegram, President Zelensky confirmed that military assistance was the central theme of the meeting. “We continue to do everything we can to drive out the occupiers and restore peace to all of our people. The key element of this process is the strength of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the availability of sufficient quantity and quality of weapons, sufficient quantity and quality of ammunition.”

“We share the same understanding with the United States: when democracy wins in one country, it wins all over the world. When freedom is defended in one country, it is defended throughout the world”, stressed the Ukrainian president who had previously stated in a tweet “the friendship and collaboration between Ukraine and the United States are stronger than ever”.

The new funding package promised by Washington, along with the sale of $165 million worth of ammunition not made in the US but compatible with Soviet-era weapons used by the Ukrainians, brings the total amount of US military aid to $3.7 billion. dollars (3,453 million euros) since the invasion, says the AP agency.

“We will support Ukraine to the end,” Blinken declared for his part early Monday morning, at the end of the visit and already back on the Polish side of the country’s border with Ukraine. “The Ukrainians are strong, they are resisting, with the help of the whole world. There is massive support for Ukraine, massive pressure on Russia. Solidarity is giving real results. Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding. If Russia wanted to divide the West, she has achieved the opposite, ”said the US Secretary of State.

Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.

subscribe

For his part, Austin emphasized the Ukrainian courage in defending his country: “The meeting has been very productive. We are very happy to have had that opportunity. We have lamented the loss of civilians and troops. We express our admiration for your professionalism and effort to defend your democracy. I agree with Secretary Blinken, we should give as much help as quickly as possible. Our discussion has been to win the current fight and to rebuild the future.” In addition, the Secretary of Defense assured that “the first step to win is to believe that you can win. They think they can win. We think so too. If they have the right material and support. And we will do what is necessary for them to have it. And if your needs change, we want to be one step ahead. We will respond to what they think they need.”

The United States also announced that it will gradually reopen its embassy in kyiv, a gesture that is greatly appreciated by the Zelensky Administration, which is gradually seeing how other European countries such as Spain are doing the same. According to Blinken, President Joe Biden plans to appoint Bridget Brink as ambassador to Ukraine on Monday. Until now, Brink, a career diplomat, held that post in Slovakia. The United States had not had an ambassador to the country since 2019, when then-President Donald Trump dismissed Marie Yovanovitch after discrediting her as part of a campaign that ended up causing the first impeachment (impeachment proceeding) against him.

Previously, Brink held positions in Serbia, Cyprus, Georgia, and Uzbekistan, as well as on the White House National Security Council. The appointment, however, still has to be ratified by the US Senate.

The plan for the return of the diplomatic representation, which left the country before the war began, begins this week. First trips will be made from Poland on the day to the western city of Lviv, the last seat of the US embassy since its transfer from kyiv was decided on February 14 for security reasons. Returning to the capital is on the near horizon, although it is not yet clear when. Other countries, such as France, Italy, Turkey or Poland are already operating in the city, as is the European Union. Also Spain since last Friday. A day earlier, the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, promised Zelensky in kyiv the return of the Spanish diplomats. The twenty people who made up the diplomatic legation were evacuated to Poland on February 25.

“Since the beginning of hostilities, we have had a team across the border in Poland that has done this (diplomatic) work for us,” Blinken also told the group of journalists waiting for him on the Polish side of the border this morning. . The visit to kyiv by Blinken and Austin should not have been disclosed for security reasons until they left the attacked country. The journalists who traveled with them to Poland were prohibited from reporting on the trip until it was over and were also not allowed to accompany them on their overland journey to kyiv. However, Zelensky blew up those cautions on Saturday, announcing that he would welcome the two top American officials the following day. One of the Ukrainian president’s advisers confirmed on Sunday that Blinken and Austin had arrived in the city. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, and the Minister of the Interior, Denys Monastrysky, also participated in the meeting.

“The Americans are in kyiv today. Right now they are talking to the president, ”Oleksiy Arestovich, one of his advisers, declared in an interview broadcast on YouTube. Arestovich insisted in the same video on what has been the main Ukrainian request since the conflict began: more weapons to face the Russians. “As long as we can’t fight back, there will be a ‘new Bucha’ every day,” he said, referring to the northwestern city of kyiv that has become a symbol of atrocities committed during Russia’s occupation of the region. The US delegation’s visit will continue in Germany, where the defense secretary will host his counterparts from more than 20 countries and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss Ukraine’s defense needs, a Pentagon official confirmed.

This week the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, will also arrive in Ukraine, who will travel to kyiv on Thursday after passing through Turkey and Russia. Precisely the order of the trip has outraged Zelenski, who criticized that Guterres passes through Moscow before Ukraine and has reproached that this is not the logical order for a visit of this type. “In Moscow there are no corpses in the streets,” Zelensky reproached.

Follow all the international information in Facebook Y Twitteror in our weekly newsletter.