“I have come here today with an important message: the United States will continue to support Ukraine now and in the future in its fight for freedom against Russian aggression,” Austin said Monday during an unannounced visit to Kyiv.
“We, along with allies and partners, will continue to support Ukraine’s urgent battlefield needs and long-term defense requirements,” the US defense secretary wrote on X, formerly Twitter, after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Together with Austin, the Commander-in-Chief of the US forces in Europe, General Christopher Cavoli, also visited Kyiv, US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink informed.
Kyiv and its allies are preparing for Wednesday’s meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group, which will bring together around 50 pro-Ukraine countries.
Washington is the biggest military aid provider to Kyiv, and cutting American aid would be a major blow to Ukraine, which is preparing for a second winter of war.
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Some Republican lawmakers oppose continuing the aid. However, US aid has not been cut off and there is still pre-approved aid that can be used. The interim spending bill signed by US President Joe Biden last week does not include spending on Ukraine.
In Ukraine on Monday, Austin assured that Kyiv has “bipartisan support” in both houses of the US Congress, although some politicians have questioned the need to keep US aid at current levels.
Zelensky described the meeting with Austin as productive and thanked the US for continuing to be a “leader in aid”.
The latest package of US aid to Ukraine includes Stinger air defense missiles, the HIMARS rocket artillery system and artillery ammunition, among other things.
“There will be more artillery shells, which are urgently needed,” Zelensky said in his nightly video call on Monday.
In October, it was reported that US aid to Ukraine reached 43.9 billion US dollars.