1 of 2 | Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken before a meeting at Bankova in Kyiv, on Wednesday. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on an unannounced visit, where he announced more than $1 billion in fresh aid to Ukraine. Photo by Ukrainian President Press Office/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Wednesday and announced new assistance for Ukraine worth more than $1 billion in a show of support for the war-torn country in the middle of its slow-moving counter-offensive to retake land from Russia.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Blinken will meet with senior Ukrainian officials over two days to reiterate the United States' commitment to Ukraine as they continue to root out the Russian military from previously captured territory.
"We want to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs, not only to succeed in the counter-offensive but has what it needs for the long term, to make sure that it has a strong deterrent," Blinken said during a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the ministry in Kyiv.
"We're also determined to continue to work with our partners as they build and rebuild a strong economy, strong democracy."
The new $1 billion in assistance for Ukraine includes $665.5 million in military and civilian security, Blinken said, stating it will help sustain Ukraine's ongoing counteroffensive and build further momentum.
Some $175 million in weaponry will come from the president's drawdown authority with another $100 million in Foreign Military Financing to support Ukraine's longer-term military needs.
Another $300 million will go to support law enforcement efforts to restore and maintain law and order in areas Kyiv has liberated from Russian control, he said.
A list of the equipment from the Pentagon shows it includes additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, artillery rounds and more.
"The new security funding that we're announcing today will also be bolstered by the arrival of U.S. Abrams tanks this fall and by training for Ukrainian pilots on F-16s in the United States, complementing training that is already underway in Europe," Blinken said.
The United States, by far Ukraine's largest backer, has provided Ukraine with 4.32 billion in security assistance, $2.9 billion in humanitarian assistance and $20.5 billion in budget support through the World Bank since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
The secretary's delegation departed the Washington area late Monday night and landed in Poland on Tuesday. He traveled at night by train, reaching Kyiv on Wednesday morning.
Miller said Blinken's travel plans remained under wraps because of "ongoing security concerns created by the active conflict."
Miller said Blinken will address Ukraine's energy, security, and humanitarian needs, and "make announcements about how the United States can continue supporting Ukraine in these areas."
The visit comes as Congress weighs a Biden administration request for an additional $24 billion in aid for Ukraine, as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has vowed not to provide a "blank check" for spending to support Kyiv.
In response to the trip, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused the United States of prolonging the war through its financial support of Ukraine.
"We have repeatedly heard statements that they are going to continue to help Kyiv as long as it takes," Peskov said. "In other words, they are going to continue to keep Ukraine in a state of war and to wage this war to the last Ukrainian, sparing no expense."