Blinken makes surprise visit to Kyiv, pledges $2 billion in new U.S. aid

Residents are seen walking near a destroyed administrative building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday following a Russian rocket attack. Photo by Sergey Kozlov/EPA-EFE
1 of 4 | Residents are seen walking near a destroyed administrative building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday following a Russian rocket attack. Photo by Sergey Kozlov/EPA-EFE

Sept. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unscheduled visit to Kyiv on Thursday, where he pledged $2 billion in new military aid for Ukraine and other European nations that are threatened by Russia's ongoing military campaign.

Blinken met with senior Ukrainian officials during his visit in the capital city. During the meetings, he communicated the new aid authorized by U.S. President Joe Biden.


It was Blinken's second visit to Kyiv since the Russian war began in February. He and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made a trip there in April to show support for the Ukrainian people.

"President [Vladimir] Putin and the Kremlin will not commit these systematic abuses with impunity," Blinken said in a tweet on Wednesday before his unannounced visit to Ukraine. "We are holding the perpetrators of these atrocities to account. The U.S. and our partners will not be silent. Ukraine and its citizens deserve justice."


Meanwhile Thursday, Ukrainian forces said they have regained as much as 400 square miles of territory in the Kharkiv region that was previously occupied by Russian troops. The gains were made as part of a Ukrainian counteroffensive that has so far made other territorial achievements in parts of northeastern and southeastern Ukraine.

The U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War said that some of the gains occurred Wednesday as Russia sought to reallocate troops from the Kharkiv region in the north to parts in the south, such as Kherson, to oppose the Ukrainian counteroffensive there.

"Ukraine's ongoing operations in Kherson Oblast have forced Russian forces to shift their focus to the south, enabling Ukrainian forces to launch localized but highly effective counterattacks in the Izyum area," the institute said in a statement.

"Russian [military observers] voiced concern that this Ukrainian counterattack seeks to cut ground lines of communication to Russian rear areas in Kupyansk and Izyum, which would allow Ukrainian troops to isolate the Russian groupings in these areas and retake large swaths of territory."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) is seen during a visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 24, along with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo via Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/UPI

Kharkiv regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said that at least two people were killed during Russian shelling in an industrial district.


In the eastern city of Sloviansk, an official said that three bodies were recovered from a building that was destroyed by Russian attacks.

Elsewhere, the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said some communities near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant were hit on Thursday. The shelling continues a sustained effort by Russian forces to launch attacks from near the threatened nuclear plant.

United Nations inspectors have been at the plant for a week to check safety systems and assess damage. They said earlier this week that a safe zone must be created around the plant as a measure to avoid a potential nuclear catastrophe.

Any significant damage to sensitive parts of the plant could result in a serious nuclear accident and potentially a deadly release of radiation.

Regional Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko said roughly a dozen homes and other buildings were damaged from the Russian shelling and rockets in Nikopol, which is near the plant. Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for shelling around the plant and within its perimeter.

Also Thursday, Polish and Ukrainian officials said they are monitoring military drills in Belarus, which has been a key ally of Russia. The Eastern European country, which has aided some aspects of Moscow's war in Ukraine, began military exercises near its border with Poland that are supposed to continue through Sept. 14.


Latest Headlines