At a time when future financial and military support for Ukraine is in serious question, the United States’ top defense official made a surprise visit to the nation, vowing that America will provide Ukraine with ongoing support in its fight against Russia.
Lloyd Austin, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, traveled to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, by train on Monday. After the meeting, Austin posted on social media that he was there “to deliver an important message” to the country’s leaders that America “will continue standing with Ukraine to fight for their freedom against Russia’s aggression, both now and in the future.”
Kyiv has been concerned about America’s commitment to providing ongoing support for them. Further military aid was not included as part of the Continuing Resolution passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden last week that avoided a full federal government shutdown.
In addition, Ukrainian officials have been worried that the outbreak of war in Israel – after terrorist organization Hamas attacked the country by surprise in early October – would redirect resources away from Ukraine and to Israel, which is one of America’s closest allies.
Still, Austin made the trip to Ukraine to discuss with top officials of the country that the U.S. plans to continue supporting Ukraine through the Biden administration.
As the winter months are fast approaching, Ukraine is going to require more military capabilities, including weapons, to repel the invading forces from Russia.
The visit by Austin comes just after Ukraine announced that it has made more advances into eastern Ukraine, which Russia took in the early parts of the war.
While the reports have yet to be officially confirmed, Ukraine has said that its military forces crossed over the Dnipro River in the country’s Kherson region, pushing as much as five miles into territory that Russian troops have occupied now for months.
If it proves to be true, it’ll mark the first major military advance by Ukraine in a few months. Intense fighting is continuing to take place near Avdiivka and Kupiansk, two cities in Ukraine.
Russia has stepped up its drone and missile attacks with Ukraine’s fierce winter approaching quickly. The front lines of the war have seen the most action, all along the almost 600 miles that stretch from the north to the south and east of Ukraine.
Even some regions of the country that are far off the front lines have seen many Russian military attacks recently.
On Sunday, the military in Ukraine reported that it was able to shoot down as many as 20 Russian drones that were launched toward Kyiv and two of the country’s other regions. There were no casualties that were reported as part of these incidents.
Kherson, a city in the southeastern part of the country, wasn’t spared. Two people were killed there on Monday morning as part of a Russian attack on a parking lot used by a transportation company in the capital of the region, according to its governor, Oleksandr Prokudin.