US Defense Secretary Austin makes unannounced visit to Ukraine

WASHINGTON — U.S. Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin made an unannounced go to to Kyiv on Monday in a high-profile push to maintain cash and weapons flowing to Ukraine whilst U.S. and worldwide sources are stretched by the brand new world dangers raised by the Israel-Hamas battle.

Austin, who traveled to Kyiv by prepare from Poland, is scheduled to fulfill with senior Ukrainian officers and publicly press Ukraine’s pressing navy wants because it enters one other powerful winter of combating.

That is Austin’s second journey to Kyiv, however he’s making it below far totally different circumstances. His first go to occurred in April 2022, simply two months after Russia’s large-scale invasion. On the time, Ukraine was driving a wave of worldwide rage at Moscow’s invasion, and Austin launched a world effort that now sees 50 international locations meet month-to-month to coordinate on what weapons, coaching and different help might be pushed to Kyiv.

“I am right here at this time to ship an necessary message — the USA will proceed to face with Ukraine of their combat for freedom in opposition to Russia’s aggression, each now and into the long run,” Austin posted on X, previously often called Twitter.

However the battle in Gaza might pull consideration and sources from the Ukraine combat. The U.S. has labored feverishly because the Oct. 7 assaults by Hamas on Israel, and the weeks of devastating bombardment on Gaza by Israel that has adopted, killing greater than 10,000 civilians, to maintain these assaults from turning right into a regional conflict.

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The U.S. has already dedicated two service strike teams, scores of fighter jets and 1000’s of U.S. personnel to the Center East, and has needed to shift its pressure posture and conduct airstrikes in opposition to Iranian- backed militant teams who are actually hitting U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria frequently.

So far, Ukraine has obtained extra $44 billion from the U.S. and greater than $35 billion from different allies in weapons, starting from tens of millions of bullets to air protection methods, superior European and U.S. battle tanks and, lastly, pledges for F-16 fighter jets.

However Ukraine nonetheless wants extra, and after virtually 20 months of transport arms to Ukraine, cracks are starting to point out. Some European international locations reminiscent of Poland have scaled again help, noting their want to keep up enough combating capability to defend themselves.

Ukrainian officers have strongly pushed again on ideas it’s in a stalemate with Russia after a long-awaited counteroffensive over the summer season didn’t transform the battle traces on the bottom. In a go to to Washington final week, Andriy Yermak, head of the president’s workplace, offered no particulars however confirmed that Ukrainian forces had lastly pushed via to the east financial institution of the Dnieper River, which has basically served because the immovable entrance line between Ukrainian and Russian forces for months.

Nevertheless, as winter units in it is going to turn out to be harder for both facet to make massive beneficial properties on account of floor circumstances. That would additional work in opposition to Ukraine if U.S. lawmakers understand there’s time to attend earlier than extra funds are wanted.

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Additional complicating the help is that the Pentagon has solely a dwindling amount of cash left on this yr’s finances to maintain sending weapons to Ukraine, and Congress is months late on getting a brand new finances handed and has not taken up a supplemental spending bundle that would come with Ukraine assist.

For the reason that conflict started in February 2022, the U.S. has offered greater than $44.2 billion in weapons to Ukraine, however the funding is almost gone. The Pentagon can ship about $5 billion extra in weapons and tools from its personal shares. But it surely solely has about $1 billion in funding to switch these shares. Because of this, latest bulletins of weapons help have been of a lot smaller greenback quantities than in months previous.


Observe AP’s protection of the conflict in Ukraine:

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