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Blinken says U.S. will provide Ukraine an additional $2 billion in defense funding

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday in Ukraine the U.S. will provide an additional $2 billion in defense funding as Russians attack on multiple fronts. Photo by Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA-EFE
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday in Ukraine the U.S. will provide an additional $2 billion in defense funding as Russians attack on multiple fronts. Photo by Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA-EFE

May 15 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the U.S. will provide an additional $2 billion in defense funding to Ukraine.

In a joint news conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Blinken also said military supplies from the $62 billion supplemental defense bill are arriving as Russia aggressively attacks on multiple fronts in its continuing invasion of Ukraine.

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"We will provide an additional $2 billion in foreign military financing for Ukraine. And we put this together in a first of its kind defense enterprise fund," Blinken said.

"We're working to ensure that Ukraine can deliver on the battlefield today as it continues to protect the country from Russian aggression. But also put itself in a position where it can deter and defend against future attacks and fundamentally secure or the Ukrainian people the right to decide their own future."

Blinken said the military assistance from the supplemental $62 billion dollar Ukraine aid package is on its way and some of it has already been delivered.

He said it will provide weapons today, invest in Ukraine's defense industrial base and will help Ukraine buy military equipment from other countries, not just the United States.

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Blinken said the world is focused on what's happening as Russia aggressively attacks in Ukraine's north and northeast, in Kharkiv in particular, where Ukrainian forces were conducting a "strategic" drawback.

"Ukraine is facing this renewed brutal Russian onslaught and we see again senseless strikes at civilians, residential buildings," Blinken said. "We're rushing ammunition, armored vehicles, missiles, air defenses. Rushing them to get to the frontlines, to protect soldiers, to protect civilians."

Blinken said air defenses are a top and urgent priority.

He said there are 32 nations that have completed or are near completing bilateral security agreements with Ukraine.

Blinken said this work is demonstrating not only to Ukraine but also to Russian President Vladimir Putin that many countries are continuing to support Ukraine for a long time to make sure that it can deter aggression and defend against it.

Blinken said Ukraine continues to demonstrate remarkable economic resilience under extremely difficult conditions. He said by pushing the Russian Navy back in the Black Sea, Ukrainian Black Sea exports are not nearly equal to what they were before the Russian invasion.

"It's been truly extraordinary," Blinken said. "The constant examples of bravery, determination, courage, resilience are here in every corner of society."

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He said it is evident among soldiers and from a dynamic civil society.

Blinken said efforts to carry out reforms that will lead to Ukraine's eventual entry into the European Union and NATO remain critical.

"For anyone who's tempted to bet against Ukraine, don't, " Blinken said. "I have every confidence that together we will get through these difficult moments and together help build a country that is free, that's prosperous, that's secure, that writes its own future."

Blinken is in Ukraine for top-level meetings with senior Ukrainian officials to highlight "the United States' enduring support for Ukraine," according to a State Department statement.

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