Blinken Makes Unannounced Trip to Ukraine

( – Secretary of State Anthony Blinken made a surprise visit to Ukraine to pledge continued US support for the country’s fight against the Russian invaders — but his trip was overshadowed by a lethal missile attack on a city marketplace just hours after he arrived. In his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Blinken discussed the ongoing war as well as Ukraine’s efforts to clean up rampant corruption.

On September 6, Blinken made an unannounced visit to Kyiv to meet with President Zelenskyy. Blinken said the US has approved a large new package of aid for Ukraine, totaling more than $1 billion; two-thirds of it is military support, including almost 200 armored vehicles. He also said Congress is handing over money seized from Russian oligarchs, which will be used to help Ukrainian combat veterans.

Blinken also talked about Zelenskyy’s new anti-corruption drive. Corruption has been a persistent problem in Ukraine since the end of the Soviet era, but the scale of it is making many people question how smart it is to send billions in aid to the country. Zelenskyy has recently launched a crackdown to persuade his allies that it’s safe to support Ukraine.

Unfortunately, not long after Blinken arrived in Kyiv, Russia launched a major bombardment with missiles and drones. One missile hit a marketplace in Kostyantynivka, a city in the east of the country and close to the front line. At least 17 people died in the attack and over 30 others were wounded; responders are still searching for more victims trapped in the rubble.

Several more missiles were aimed at Kyiv, where Blinken was at the time. The missile assault lasted for almost three hours and a variety of targets were hit, including grain storage facilities in the port of Izmail. In July, Russia pulled out of an agreement to allow Ukrainian grain exports through its blockade; now it seems the Kremlin is trying to attack world food prices by shutting down shipments.

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