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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Alamy Stock Photo
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Blinken says Russia 'must pay' for Ukraine destruction as he makes unannounced visit

His trip comes just weeks after the US Congress finally approved a $61 billion financial aid package for Ukraine


US SECRETARY OF State Antony Blinken has said that the international community must make Russia pay for the destruction it has inflicted on Ukraine through more than two years of war.

“What Putin destroyed, Russia should – must – pay to rebuild,” Blinken said in a speech in Ukraine, adding: ”Our Congress has given us the power to seize Russian assets in the US, and we intend to use it.”

Earlier, Blinken assured Ukraine that US military aid is “on its way”.

Blinken’s trip comes just weeks after the US Congress finally approved a $61 billion financial aid package for Ukraine after months of political wrangling, unlocking much-needed arms for the country’s stretched troops.

“The assistance is now on its way. Some of it has already arrived, more will be arriving,” Blinken told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“That’s going to make a real difference against the ongoing Russian aggression on the battlefield,” he said.

Zelenskyy thanked Washington for the aid, saying it was “crucial” and added that it was “important to get it as quickly as possible”.

Zelenskyy said air defence was the “biggest problem” for Ukraine and requested two Patriot batteries for the Kharkiv region, where Russian forces have been advancing and pounding villages all along the border since Friday.

Russia’s defence ministry today said in a statement its forces had captured another village in the region.

“Units of the North group of troops liberated the village of Bugruvatka in the Kharkiv region and advanced deep into the enemy defence,” the ministry said.

At a checkpoint outside the city of Kharkiv, a Ukrainian official said Russian forces had entered Ukraine through “villages on the very border that were complicated for us to defend”.

Russian forces “are on high ground and are shelling us from there,” said the official, Volodymyr Usov, head of the Kharkiv district military administration.

‘Intense enemy fire’

Russia’s surprise ground offensive in the Kharkiv region has forced thousands to evacuate and pushed Kyiv to mobilise reinforcements.

Ukraine says several civilians have been killed by Russian fire in the region, including today two aged 80 and 83.

The Ukrainian army has acknowledged Russia is “achieving tactical success” but Zelenskyy has stressed Kyiv has sent reinforcements to Kharkiv and that “our counterattacks are ongoing”.

“We are getting more and more results, destroying the occupier’s infantry and machinery,” the president said in an address yesterday evening.

“Our task is crystal clear: to thwart Russia’s attempt to expand the war”.

u-s-secretary-of-state-antony-blinken-center-surrounded-by-security-officers-walks-in-independence-square-in-kyiv-ukraine-tuesday-may-14-2024-blinken-arrived-in-kyiv-on-tuesday-in-an-unannoun Blinken, center, surrounded by security officers, walks in Independence square in Kyiv, Ukraine Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Zelenskyy said Kyiv had also noted strikes and “hostile activity” targeted against the Sumy and Chernigiv regions in northern Ukraine.

In the east of the country, where several areas had come under “intense enemy fire”, Ukrainian forces had changed their positions “to save the lives of our defenders” and were planning to regroup units, the army said last night.

Ukraine’s security council chief Oleksandr Lytvynenko said Moscow had massively upped its troop deployment for the new offensive in the Kharkiv region.

“There are a lot of Russians, quite a lot. There were about 50,000 on the border. Now there are many more than 30,000 coming,” he told AFP yesterday.

However, he said “we don’t see any threat of assault on the city of Kharkiv”, around 30km from the combat zone.

Other strikes

An overnight strike on Kharkiv wounded two people, regional governor Oleg Synegubov said on Tuesday on Telegram.

In Russia, the defence ministry said air defences had intercepted 25 Ukrainian rockets in the Belgorod border region.

Elsewhere, in the southern Volgograd region, freight train carriages were derailed in Kotluban station due to the “intervention of unauthorised persons”, Russian news agencies said on Tuesday.

No details were given about the incident or who caused it.

Kyiv did not claim responsibility but a Ukrainian advisor to the mayor of Mariupol, which was seized by Russia in spring 2022, called it “good news”.

According to him, the station had a branch line “leading to the arsenal of the main missile and artillery department of the (Russian) ministry of defence”.

Kotluban is about 300 kilometres from the border with Ukraine, and the Volgograd region is sometimes the target of drone attacks launched by the Ukrainian army.

© AFP 2024