On Monday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made an unannounced visit to Kyiv to confirm Washington’s continued support in the fight against the invasion of Russian forces.
The United States has provided tens of billions of dollars in security aid to Ukraine and repeatedly pledged to support Kyiv “as long as necessary,” but opposition from hardline Republican lawmakers has cast doubt on the future of U.S. aid.
Austin “traveled to Ukraine today to meet with Ukrainian leaders and to demonstrate strong US support for Ukraine’s struggle for freedom,” the Pentagon said in a statement about the visit, which was not previously announced for security reasons.
“He will also emphasize the US commitment to continue providing Ukraine with the security assistance it needs to defend itself against Russian aggression,” the statement said.
The trip to Kyiv by train from Poland is the second visit by the head of the Pentagon since February 2022, when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
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.
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.
But Sabrina Singh, the Pentagon’s deputy press secretary, said earlier this month that aid packages “have become smaller because we had to reduce our support to Ukraine.”
Lloyd Austin. Photo: AFP/Scanpix