US Secretary of Defense Austin makes an unannounced visit to Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made an unannounced visit to Kiev on Monday in a high-level effort to keep money and weapons flowing to Ukraine even as American and international resources are strained by new global risks raised by Israel. Hamas conflict

Austin, who traveled to Kiev by train from Poland, is scheduled to meet with senior Ukrainian officials and publicly press Ukraine’s urgent military needs as it enters another harsh winter of fighting.

This is Austin’s second trip to Kiev, but he’s doing so under very different circumstances. for him First visit It happened in April 2022, just two months after the full-scale Russian invasion. At the time, Ukraine was riding a wave of global outrage over Moscow’s invasion, and Austin launched an international effort that now sees 50 countries meeting monthly to coordinate what weapons, training and other support could be pushed to Kiev.

“I am here today to deliver an important message – the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine in its fight for freedom against Russian aggression, now and in the future,” Austin wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

But the conflict in Gaza may be just as well Attract attention and resources From the battle of Ukraine. Since the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel and weeks of devastating Israeli bombing of Gaza, which killed more than 10,000 civilians, the United States has worked feverishly to prevent those attacks from turning into a regional war.

The United States has already sent two aircraft carrier strike groups, dozens of combat aircraft and thousands of American personnel to the Middle East, and has been forced to change its force posture and conduct air strikes against Iranian-backed militant groups that are now striking American bases in Iraq and Iran. Syria on a regular basis.

To date, Ukraine has received more than $44 billion from the United States and more than $35 billion from other allies in the form of weapons, ranging from millions of bullets to air defense systems, advanced European and American battle tanks, and finally arms pledges. F-16 fighter jets.

But Ukraine still needs more, and after nearly twenty months of weapons being shipped to Ukraine, cracks are starting to appear. Some European countries such as Poland have reduce support, Noting their need to maintain sufficient combat capability to defend themselves.

Ukrainian officials have forcefully rejected suggestions they are at an impasse with Russia after a long-awaited counterattack over the summer did not fundamentally change the battle lines on the ground. On a visit to Washington last week, Andriy Yermak, the president’s chief of staff, did not provide any details but confirmed that Ukrainian forces… I finally paid through To the eastern bank of the Dnieper River, which has served as a static front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces for several months.

However, with the arrival of winter, it will be difficult for either side to make significant gains due to ground conditions. This could have a greater impact against Ukraine if US judges decide there is time to wait before more money is needed.

Further complicating support is that the Pentagon has only a dwindling amount of money left in this year’s budget to continue sending weapons to Ukraine, and that Congress is months late in passing a new budget and has not taken up a supplemental spending package that would include aid to Ukraine.

Since the war began in February 2022, the United States has provided more than $44.2 billion in weapons to Ukraine, but the funding has almost run out. The Pentagon could send an additional $5 billion worth of weapons and equipment from its own stockpiles. But it only has about $1 billion in financing to replace those inventories. As a result, recent announcements of gun support have been in much lower dollar amounts than in recent months.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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