Blinken Visits Ukraine In Show Of Support As US Preps $1 Billion Aid Package

(Screenshot / MSNBC)

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Kyiv on Wednesday and announced an aid package worth more than $1 billion, according to Reuters.

Blinken said during his trip that the U.S. wants to ensure that Ukraine has a “strong deterrent” in its ongoing counter-offensive against Russia, and announced another aid package worth more than $1 billion – adding to the U.S.’s total of $43 billion already sent to the country, Reuters reported Wednesday. A number of presidential hopefuls have criticized the U.S.’s backing of Ukraine’s war against Russia, citing concerns that issues within the homeland need addressing first. (RELATED: Zelenskyy Agrees To Hold Elections In Ukraine If U.S. Helps Pay For It)

“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,” Blinken said alongside Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, according to Reuters. “We’re also determined to continue to work with our partners as they build and rebuild a strong economy, strong democracy.”

Blinken announced the $1 billion aid package and met with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Blinken reinforced his promise that the U.S. will “invest more than $520 million in making Ukraine’s energy infrastructure… cleaner” and  “more resilient,” according to Reuters.

A number of U.S. officials have criticized Ukraine’s counter-offensive against Russia as being too slow and poorly operated, sparking anger from Ukrainian officials like Kuleba, who told critics to “shut up.”

“While in Ukraine, Secretary Blinken will meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy… to discuss Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive and future recovery and reconstruction efforts,” reads a statement from State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. “The Secretary will address Ukraine’s energy, security, and humanitarian needs, and make announcements about how the United States can continue supporting Ukraine in these areas.”

GOP officials and presidential candidates have expressed concern that the U.S. is too heavily involved in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Republican candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said in late August he would not support further funding for the war, and called it “disastrous” that the Biden administration seemed to care more about an “invasion across somebody else’s border” than protecting the U.S.-Mexico border.

Florida Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis said in August that Europe needed to “pull their weight” in addressing the Ukraine-Russia conflict and the U.S. should be more focused on the growing threat from China. He also said in March that the war is not a “vital” interest of the U.S.

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump warned in March that continued U.S. involvement in the conflict could spark a third World War, and claimed he could end it within 24 hours. “I’m the only candidate who can make this promise,” Trump said in August. “I will prevent World War III, and don’t kid yourself — we’re a lot closer to it than you think. A lot closer.”

A number of Republican lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden in April and called on him to stop sending “unrestrained” funding to Ukraine, citing concerns that increased involvement in the conflict could lead to a proxy war. The lawmakers encouraged the Biden administration to focus on readying the U.S. military instead.

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