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U.S. delivers 'lethal' aid to Ukraine

U.S. delivers 'lethal' aid to Ukraine
Large green containers arrived in Ukraine Friday night in U.S. shipment of security assistance, which included "200,000 pounds of lethal aid," to defend against "growing Russian aggression," according to the embassy. Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Kiev/Twitter

Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. government delivered "lethal" aid to Ukraine as part of the first shipment of security assistance to defend against possible a Russian invasion, the U.S. Embassy in Kiev said.

"This shipment includes close to 200,000 pounds of lethal aid, including ammunition for the front line defenders of Ukraine," the embassy said on Twitter.

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"The shipment -- and $2.7 billion USD since 2014 -- demonstrates U.S. commitment to helping Ukraine bolster its defenses in the face of growing Russia aggression."

President Joe Biden "recently directed" the shipment, which arrived in Ukraine on Friday night.

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Photos included the embassy's tweets showed a National Air Cargo plane -- labeled "We Deliver the World" -- unloading large green containers, but did not indicate what else was included.

On Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, Switzerland, and both agreed to continue talks, but did not reach any other agreement.

Blinken aimed to de-escalate tension near Ukraine's eastern border, where Russian has amassed some 100,000 troops, according to estimates, and Lavrov sought guarantees that Ukraine wouldn't join NATO, which Russia says would pose a security threat.

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Also, on Friday, Blinken warned that any Russian invasion of Ukraine would be "met with a severe and a united response."

Blinken's warning comes after the Biden administration threatened the Kremlin last week with "massive consequences" if it chooses conflict over diplomacy.

Last week, Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said Russia has made what it wants known and has been waiting on a response from Washington.

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Specifically, Russia wants NATO to stop courting further membership and not deploy offensive strike weapons near Kremlin territory. It also wants the U.S. military to leave NATO member states that joined the alliance after Moscow and NATO signed the Founding Act of 1997 in which both sides agreed to not consider the other as an adversary.

The United States and its NATO allies have rejected Russia's demand to rollback forces to positions held in 1997, before Central and Eastern nation joined NATO, along with the Kremlin's demand to prevent Ukraine from ever joining NATO.

Lavrov said Friday that Russia had no plans to attack Ukraine, according to CNN.

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