Blinken, Ukrainian counterpart speak on US aid to Kyiv
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday about sending additional aid to Kyiv, as Russia’s invasion grinds into its third month.
The discussion came days after President Biden asked Congress to authorize $33 billion to support Ukraine over the next five months in its fight against Russia, and after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) said on a trip to Kyiv this weekend that the U.S. would support Ukraine “until the fight is done.”
“The Secretary and Foreign Minister discussed the Administration’s April 28 request to Congress for $33 billion in security, economic, and humanitarian aid to empower Ukraine to defeat the Kremlin’s unconscionable war,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
Blinken during the call also underscored the U.S.’s “support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s brutal aggression,” and updated his Ukrainian counterpart on plans for American diplomats to go back to Ukraine — including visits to Lviv this week and individuals returning to Kyiv “as soon as possible.”
Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin traveled to Ukraine on April 24 to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top officials.
The assistance to Ukraine is expected to receive support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, however it could become tangled up with the administration’s push to move more COVID-19 funding through Congress amid GOP resistance.
An administration official told reporters this past week that the administration thinks it “certainly makes sense” for COVID-19 aid and Ukraine assistance to “move together” in legislation. On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed the idea, telling reporters “I’m all for that.”
“I think it’s very important. We have emergencies here. We need to have the COVID money, and time is of the essence because we need the Ukraine money.… So I would hope that we can do that,” she added.
Negotiations are currently focused on the Senate, with the House on recess until next week.
Pelosi’s trip to Kyiv with a group of lawmakers on Saturday marked the first official congressional delegation to visit Ukraine since the invasion began on Feb. 24.
The group headed to Poland on Sunday, where the lawmakers are slated to meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda and senior officials.
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