Blinken, Ukraine FM stress urgency of Congress backing aid

Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed Thursday the "urgent" need for the U.S. Congress to pass a new military aid package for Kiev as he met Ukraine's foreign minister.

Blinken held talks with Dmytro Kuleba during a meeting of ministers from the Group of Seven countries — Italy, France, Germany, the UK, the U.S., Japan and Canada — in the Italian island of Capri.

They are due to discuss support for Ukraine at a session later Thursday.

"At this moment, it is urgent that all of the friends and supporters of Ukraine maximise their efforts to provide... Ukraine with what it needs to continue to effectively defend itself against the Russian aggression," Blinken said.

An Italian diplomatic source, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the G7, said the aim was to accelerate the delivery of air defence systems to Kiev.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote Saturday on new military aid, including some $61 billion in long-delayed support for Ukraine.

"Virtually all of the supplement budget requests that are being asked will go into defence production in the United States, building our own defence industrial base and helping to provide good jobs in the United States," Blinken said.

He highlighted the "profound stakes that the United States has in Ukraine's success. If (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is allowed to proceed with impunity, we know he won't stop at Ukraine".

Kubela underlined the necessity of agreeing an aid package "that will literally, without exaggeration, help save Ukrainians from Russian missile slaughter".

"This is a matter of death and life for thousands of people, and in a broader sense, it's a matter of Ukraine's survival in this struggle against much stronger...

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