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Secretary Blinken’s Kyiv visit bolsters support for Ukraine’s counteroffensive

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U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday, just hours after Russia launched a missile attack on the Ukrainian capital.

The visit is aimed at assessing Ukraine’s 3-month-old counteroffensive and reaffirming U.S. support for Kyiv’s efforts to push back against Russian forces. Concerns have arisen among some Western allies regarding the progress of Ukraine’s counteroffensive after 18 months of war.

CBS News correspondent Imtiaz Tyab reports that this visit marks the first time a senior U.S. official has visited Kyiv since the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive. The timing of Blinken’s arrival was particularly significant, as Russia’s missile attack occurred just before his landing. Although Ukrainian air defense systems intercepted the missiles, residential areas were affected by debris.

During Blinken’s visit, an announcement is expected regarding new military aid ranging from $175 million to $200 million, with a larger U.S. military assistance package anticipated later in the week. This support is crucial as Ukraine continues its counteroffensive efforts against Russia.

While Blinken acknowledged Ukraine’s “good progress,” concerns have emerged over rising casualties and criticism of the counteroffensive’s tactics. Upon arrival in Kyiv, Blinken paid his respects at the Berkovetske cemetery to honor Ukrainian armed forces members who sacrificed their lives in defense of the nation.

Blinken stated, “We want to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs, not only to succeed in the counteroffensive but has what it needs for the long-term, to make sure that it has a strong deterrent.” He emphasized the commitment to assisting Ukraine in building a strong economy and democracy.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in a conference call with reporters, downplayed the impact of U.S. assistance on the ongoing military operation in Ukraine.

During his visit, Blinken is scheduled to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the prime minister, and foreign minister to discuss the ongoing counteroffensive and reconstruction efforts. He also had a meeting with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to discuss Denmark’s role in training Ukrainian pilots and providing fighter jets to Ukraine.

Discussions will extend to alternative export routes for Ukrainian grain due to Russia’s exit from the Black Sea Grain Initiative and frequent bombardments of port facilities in the Odesa region. Support for Ukraine’s war-torn economy will also be on the agenda, building upon previous aid commitments announced by Blinken in London.

Overnight, Russia launched cruise missiles at Kyiv, marking the first aerial attack on the capital since August 30. Debris from a downed missile caused a fire and equipment damage at a business in Kyiv, but no casualties were reported. In the Odesa region, a Russian missile and drone attack on Izmail port resulted in one fatality and significant damage to grain elevators and administrative buildings.

This visit is Blinken’s fourth to Ukraine since the war began, and it holds symbolic significance as he spends the night in Kyiv, emphasizing continued American support as the conflict persists. The trip aims to discuss shared priorities, with a focus on Ukraine’s counteroffensive and ongoing requirements. U.S. officials, while concerned about some battlefield setbacks, remain generally encouraged by Ukraine’s handling of the military situation, especially its air defense capabilities.

Blinken’s visit seeks to assess the progress of the counteroffensive and determine the support needed in the current phase of the battle, including materials for breaking through dense Russian defense lines as winter approaches. Air defense remains a top priority in these discussions.

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