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Blinken set to unveil US$1 billion aid package on Kyiv visit

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A US State Department official told reporters en route to Kyiv that they would announce “more than a billion dollars in new US funding for Ukraine”.

Hours before Blinken’s arrival, Kyiv was targeted by a Russian missile strike, which authorities said caused no casualties but did start a fire outside the capital.

The visit also comes as a time for change for Kyiv’s military establishment, days after President Volodymyr Zelenksyy dismissed defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov – who served throughout the Russian invasion – after allegations of graft in defence ministry contracts.

Parliament on Wednesday approved Zelenskyy’s nomination to replace Reznikov with Rustem Umerov – a behind-the-scenes deal-maker from the Crimean Tatar community with extensive contacts in Turkey and the Middle East.

The US official said it was a “good time” for Blinken to come, several months into Kyiv’s counter-offensive, and before a second winter during the full-scale war, with energy security fears rising again.

Talks will focus on “what they need for this phase of the battle”, said the official, adding that supplying more air defence would be a “high priority”.

The US has supplied key weaponry to Ukraine that has allowed it to go on the advance this summer.

Progress in Kyiv’s counter-offensive has been slower than expected, however, due to heavily mined territory and tough Russian defence lines.

The Kremlin dismissed Blinken’s Kyiv visit, a spokesman saying US aid would not “influence the course of the special military operation” – Moscow’s term for its offensive.

He accused Washington of wanting to “keep Ukraine in a state of war, to wage this war till the last Ukrainian”.

DANISH PM VISITS

A string of Western leaders have visited Kyiv during the war, pledging support against Russian forces.

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was also in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, after pledging to supply Ukraine with 19 F-16 fighter jets.

Denmark and the Netherlands last month announced they would provide the advanced jets to strengthen Kyiv’s Soviet-era air force.

Frederiksen addressed Ukraine’s parliament on Wednesday, where lawmakers thanked her for supplying the planes.

The US said Blinken and Frederiksen met on their way to Ukraine, which Western leaders have mostly been reaching by train from Poland.

State Department spokesman Matthew Millar said Blinken thanked her for “Denmark’s leadership in the F-16 coalition of partner nations to train Ukrainian pilots, and for its decision to donate F-16 jets to Ukraine”.

Russia has called the decision to supply Ukraine with the American planes an “escalation”.

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