The U.S. has pledged to reestablish its diplomatic presence in Ukraine, albeit cautiously, according to top diplomatic officials.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made the announcement at a press briefing at the Poland-Ukraine border on Monday, following a clandestine meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv the previous day.
Several vital messages were relayed during the meeting, including the United States’ intention to reopen its embassy in Ukraine and the promise of more monetary and military aid and training. The U.S. also pledged $713 million in new assistance for Ukraine and other countries in the region seen as potentially vulnerable to Russian threats.
In mid-February, the United States began moving its diplomats away from Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, as U.S. officials suspected an invasion would soon occur. However, these diplomats will now reportedly begin gradually returning to Ukrainian cities and, eventually, the capital.
Last week, the United Kingdom announced plans to reopen its embassy in Ukraine in the coming days, depending on the security situation. Seventeen other countries, mostly European Union and NATO members, have already sent their diplomats back to Kyiv.
On Monday, President Biden nominated Bridget Brink as the new Ukrainian ambassador. The Trump administration removed the former ambassador Maria Yovanovitch in 2019.
Blinken and Austin’s visit to Ukraine marks the first visit by U.S. officials since the invasion began two months ago. Blinken said that their ability to visit Kyiv was proof that Ukraine is extending every effort to hold off Russian forces.
“In terms of Russia’s war aims, Russia has already failed, and Ukraine has already succeeded,” he said.
The United States has been consistent with its support of Ukraine. During their visit, Blinken and Austin announced to Ukrainian officials that the U.S. is pledging an additional $322 million in military aid. According to the Pentagon, the U.S. has committed $3.7 billion to Ukraine since the conflict began in late February.
U.S. Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby stated that the U.S. is providing howitzers to the Ukrainian soldiers and training them on using the weapons. Howitzers are long-range weapons better suited to the flat terrain of Ukraine’s Donbas region, where much of the fighting is currently taking place.
Meanwhile, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. warned Washington to stop sending large arms shipments to Ukraine, as it is causing intensified conflict.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated on Monday that the Ukrainian conflict would end with an agreement, but its contents are dependent on the military situation. Lavrov criticized Kyiv for what he considers insincere negotiations.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin lambasted the West. In his statements, he claimed the West had failed to divide Russians and was responsible for provoking Kyiv’s alleged attacks on Russian journalists.
As Putin’s “special military operation” continues, thousands of civilians have died, and many more are injured. Though Putin denies that Russian forces are intentionally targeting civilians, they have moved from attacking major cities to focusing their aggressions on the outer regions of Ukraine, such as Donbas.