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Friday, April 12, 2024

Blinken Visits Ukraine as Russian Missile Strike Kills 17


Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken traveled to Ukraine’s capital on Wednesday and met with President Voloydmyr Zelensky, delivering a U.S. vote of confidence — and the promise of extra assist — whilst Russia made one of many deadliest assaults of the battle on civilians.

A Russian missile struck Kostyantynivka, an jap metropolis close to the entrance traces, killing not less than 17 individuals and wounding not less than 32 others, and extra would possibly nonetheless be trapped within the rubble, in line with Ukrainian officers. They mentioned the assault hit an outside market at about 2 p.m., when it was busy with distributors and consumers, whereas Mr. Blinken was in Kyiv.

“An everyday market. Outlets. A pharmacy. Individuals who did nothing improper. Many wounded. Sadly, the variety of casualties and the injured might rise,” Mr. Zelensky wrote on Telegram. For anybody all over the world to proceed to take care of Russia, he added, “means turning a blind eye” to atrocities.

Early within the morning, Russia launched a volley of missiles and drones, a number of of them at Kyiv, hours earlier than Mr. Blinken arrived, the Ukrainian army mentioned, together with a drone that killed not less than one particular person in Izmail, a small port metropolis on the Danube River in southern Ukraine.

Mr. Blinken’s journey, which was not introduced upfront for safety causes, got here as Mr. Zelensky’s authorities wages an more and more public battle towards the official corruption that has lengthy been endemic in his nation.

Some lawmakers in america and Europe have cited that downside — in addition to the grueling tempo of Kyiv’s counteroffensive to retake Russian-occupied territory — in voicing doubts about persevering with to spend billions to arm and help Ukraine. That has put strain on Mr. Zelensky and the Biden administration to indicate progress towards graft.

“We’re engaged in aiding the federal government of Ukraine on anticorruption efforts and on efforts to make sure accountability and full transparency of all the help we’re offering, in addition to the safety of U.S.-provided protection articles and applied sciences,” Mr. Blinken mentioned at a information convention after his assembly with Mr. Zelensky, who didn’t participate within the information convention.

“President Zelensky and I mentioned these points right this moment, and the significance to Ukraine’s democratic way forward for continued reforms and the battle towards corruption,” he mentioned.

After a sequence of army procurement and enlistment scandals, this week Mr. Zelensky dismissed his protection minister, Oleksii Reznikov, the most important shake-up in his administration throughout a 12 months and a half of battle. The Ukrainian Parliament on Wednesday confirmed the appointment of his substitute, Rustem Umerov.

Mr. Blinken, making his fourth journey to Kyiv for the reason that invasion, said repeatedly that American backing was unshaken. “Ukraine’s safety is integral to the safety of your entire Euro-Atlantic neighborhood and certainly it’s integral to safety all over the world, due to the rules which can be being challenged right here,” he mentioned on the information convention, with Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian international minister.

He introduced greater than $1 billion in new assist, together with $665.5 million in army and different safety help, drawing on spending authority already granted by Congress to the Biden administration. He famous that a lot of the help was supposed not for the present battle however for long-term safety and rebuilding Ukrainian society.

“For the primary time we’re transferring to Ukraine belongings seized from sanctioned Russian oligarchs, which can now be used to help Ukrainian army veterans,” he mentioned. “Those that have enabled Putin’s battle of aggression ought to pay for it.”

In all, america has provided $43 billion in gear, together with weaponry, coaching and different army and regulation enforcement assist, since Russia’s full-scale invasion started in February 2022, and greater than $20 billion in financial and humanitarian assist. President Biden has requested Congress to authorize a further $24 billion.

The Protection Division mentioned on Wednesday that the administration plans to ship ammunition made with depleted uranium to Ukraine — the most recent in a sequence of escalations in what sorts of weaponry america provides to Kyiv. The British authorities mentioned in March that it might give Ukraine depleted uranium munitions.

Rounds made with uranium, used for many years by america and different international locations, are more practical at penetrating armor than these made with different metals, and extra prone to ignite fires. Some U.S. tanks have armor that comes with depleted uranium.

The metallic, a byproduct of creating gas for nuclear reactors, is mildly radioactive. Some advocates have expressed considerations that extended publicity may trigger sickness, or that spent ammunition may trigger environmental contamination, however the Pentagon says these fears are unfounded.

The Biden administration has repeatedly resisted after which relented on sending weapons methods to Ukraine — HIMARS rocket artillery, Patriot air protection missiles, Abrams tank, F-16 fighter jets and cluster munitions, amongst others.

Mr. Blinken mentioned he and Mr. Zelensky had mentioned concepts for a long-term safety partnership that the Ukrainian chief has mentioned ought to resemble the American alliance with Israel. Such an association, which 28 different international locations have additionally expressed curiosity in having with Ukraine, would offer it with some assurances in need of becoming a member of the NATO alliance, which some member international locations contemplate a far-off objective.

Erin Mendell contributed reporting from Seoul, and Marc Santora from Odesa, Ukraine.

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