Sat. May 28th, 2022

The delivery follows US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Kiev this week amid concerns over tens of thousands of Russian troops gathered at the border.

The first shipment of the US $ 200 million security package to Ukraine has arrived in Kiev, the US embassy said.

The delivery followed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visit to Kiev this week amid concerns from Ukraine and its Western allies about tens of thousands of Russian troops gathered at the border with Ukraine. Russia denies planning a new military offensive.

Washington approved the $ 200 million package in December.

“The United States will continue to provide such assistance to support Ukraine’s armed forces in their ongoing effort to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russian aggression,” the embassy said on Facebook on Saturday.

Russia's Navy Cadets Walk Along a PierRussia’s naval cadets walk along a pier at the Kronshtadt naval base, outside St. Petersburg [Olga Maltseva/AFP]

Ukraine’s defense minister thanked the US for its assistance.

Meanwhile, the Baltic nations will send Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania US-manufactured anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine in a move that Blinken said Washington fully endorses.

“I have expedited and authorized and we fully endorse the transfer of defense equipment provided by NATO allies Estonia Latvia Lithuania to Ukraine to strengthen its ability to defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked and irresponsible aggression,” he tweeted.

“We salute them for their many years of support to Ukraine.”

Earlier this week, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, described Western arms supplies to Ukraine as “extremely dangerous” and said they were “doing nothing to reduce tensions”.

The West rejects Moscow’s main claims – NATO promises that Ukraine will never be added as a member, that no alliance weapons will be deployed near Russia’s borders, and that it will withdraw its forces from Central and Eastern Europe.

A meeting between Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ended on Friday with no breakthrough.

“Stand united”

In a joint statement issued late Friday, the defense ministers of the three Baltic states said they were “united in our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of continued Russian aggression”.

They said Estonia would supply Ukraine with Javelin tank weapons, while Latvia and Lithuania would send Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and other related equipment to strengthen Kyiv’s defensive military capabilities.

“Today, Ukraine is at the forefront of separating Europe from the military conflict with Russia. “Let’s admit it – the war in Ukraine is going on and it is important to support Ukraine in every way we can so that they can resist the aggressor,” said Kalle Laanet, Estonia’s Minister of Defense.

It was not immediately clear when the weapons and equipment would be sent to Ukraine.

A Russian conscript carries ammunition during a military exercise at Molkino training ground in the Krasnodar region, RussiaA Russian conscript carries ammunition during a military exercise at Molkino training ground in the Krasnodar region, Russia [File: AP Photo]

In a separate development, Estonia seeks Germany’s approval to send Soviet-made howitzers, who once belonged to East Germany, to Ukraine. Estonia acquired the non-NATO holders of Finland, who bought them from Germany’s military surplus stock in the 1990s.

The German government said on Friday it was considering Estonia’s request to hand over the whips to Ukraine, but did not provide a timeline for a decision.

Matthew Bryza of the Atlantic Council said from Istanbul, Turkey, while the gathering of troops along the Ukraine border was an “unprecedented peacetime military build-up”, he believes war is not Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “preferred outcome”.

“A full-scale invasion is expensive. This is risky because there will also be many Russian casualties [and the] “Ukrainian army is much better equipped than in 2014,” he told Al Jazeera.

In 2014, Russia seized the Crimean peninsula following the overthrow of Ukraine’s Moscow – friendly leader and also supported a separatist armed uprising in eastern Ukraine.

“Ukrainian civilians are ready to fight. “There may be a partisan war for years that will cause serious casualties,” Bryza added.

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