Blinken in Ukraine to assure US support amid new Russian offensive

American military aid for Ukraine is "on its way", U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Kiev on Tuesday, as Russia pressed on with a new offensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

Blinken's trip comes just weeks after the U.S. 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.

"In the near term, assistance is now on its way that and that will make a real difference against the Russian aggression," he told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Blinken arrived by overnight train from Poland on his fourth visit to Kiev since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022.

Zelensky thanked Washington for the aid, saying: "The decision on the package was crucial for us".

He said the biggest deficit for Ukraine was air defense and asked for two Patriot batteries in the Kharkiv region, where Russian forces have been advancing and pounding villages along the border.

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

"They are on high ground and are shelling us from there," said the official, Volodymyr Usov, head of the Kharkiv district military administration.

The White House said Monday it was doing "everything" possible to rush weapons to Ukraine.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters a new arms package would be announced "in the coming days."

 'Intense enemy fire' 

The surprise Russian ground offensive in the Kharkiv region, which began on Friday, has forced thousands to evacuate and pushed...

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