Blinken arrives in Poland to assess additional US aid to Ukraine

KORCZOWA, Poland — With a line of refugees streaming into Poland behind them, senior U.S. and Ukrainian diplomats met on the Ukrainian b...

KORCZOWA, Poland — With a line of refugees streaming into Poland behind them, senior U.S. and Ukrainian diplomats met on the Ukrainian border on Saturday in a brief but extraordinary encounter to assess the additional support and protection the United States will provide. United could bring to deal with the Russian invasion, which seemed certain to continue.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba thanked US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken for “coming here to Ukraine, literally.” The two men stood at the border where, within an hour, hundreds of refugees entered Poland on foot in freezing temperatures.

For Mr. Blinken, this brief meeting was an opportunity to take stock of the humanitarian catastrophe — the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War — provoked by Russian President Vladimir V. Putin during his invasion of Ukraine.

For Mr. Kuleba, it was a time to remind the world, in stark terms, of the possibility of a prolonged conflict with a high number of human casualties and the breakdown of the world order if foreign aid did not respond to what Ukraine demanded.

“Ukraine will win this war,” Kuleba said after the meeting, which was kept secret for several hours after its conclusion to ensure he could safely return to Ukraine. “The question is the price of our victory. And if our partners continue to take bold and systemic decisions to intensify economic and political pressure on Russia, if they continue to provide us with the necessary weapons, the price will be lower.

“It will save many lives in Ukraine, many homes; many children will be born, many sufferings will be avoided,” he said. “That’s the only issue that’s on the agenda.”

Blinken said the Biden administration was seeking to send at least $2.75 billion in additional humanitarian aid to Ukraine and countries that have hosted more than a million refugees so far. “We’re in with Ukraine – one way or another, short-term, medium-term, long-term,” he said, adding he was “intimidated” by the resistance against the much larger army in Moscow.

But Mr Kuleba again called on NATO forces to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine to protect it from Russian bombing – a move that the Biden administration and its allies say the would lead to a larger war.

The global pressure on Russia to pull out – backed by devastating economic sanctions against Mr. Putin’s government and its allies and by deliveries of arms and military equipment to Kiev – “not only will continue, but will escalate until this war of choice is fought.” an end,” Mr. Blinken said. He said the United States and its allies are “looking, again, at everything” to support Ukraine.

“The world is here; the world is with you,” Mr. Blinken told Mr. Kuleba.

Mr. Blinken has repeatedly noted the rising death toll in Ukraine, sometimes describing them in graphic terms, over the past few days to highlight the war to Americans who can largely feel untouched by its violence. He witnessed his desperation at the border crossing on Saturday, where the sounds of crying babies and truck engines punctuated an otherwise stunned silence among most of the arriving refugees, who shook as they were driven in small groups by border guards to a processing center just inside Poland.

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau estimated that one million Ukrainian refugees would have fled to Poland by the end of this weekend. By Saturday afternoon, that number had risen to 700,000, and many of those who fled arrived at the Korczowa-Krakovets crossing. In all, more more than 1.3 million refugees have left Ukraine for neighboring countries since Friday.

The line of Ukrainians trudging into Poland included refugees leading children by the hand or carrying a single backpack or suitcase full of their personal belongings.

“We walked to the border, I don’t know how many hours,” said 12-year-old girl Venera Ahmadi, whose family left Kyiv after “hearing bombs” and were staying in a detention center. reception of refugees in Korczowa. .

“I was afraid to die,” said Venera’s older sister, Jasmine Ahmadi.

Mr. Blinken met some of the new arrivals at the reception center, where they received hot meals and rested in beds crammed into a building that had been a shopping center just a week earlier. Mr Rau said around 3,000 Ukrainians were there on Saturday – a number he said had been increasing daily.

The latest tranche of humanitarian aid is part of the Biden administration’s $10 billion request to Congress for additional funding for Ukraine.

Arriving in the southeastern Polish town of Rzeszow on Saturday morning, Mr. Blinken was greeted by Democrats and Republicans from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who had also come to assess what the United States was doing. United could bring more.

“We’re going to do everything we can to help the people of Ukraine,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks, Democrat of New York and chairman of the committee. The top Republican on the panel, Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, nodded in agreement.

Since the invasion, Mr. Blinken said, the United States has already sent more than $54 million in aid, including water, 20,000 thermal blankets and healthcare supplies for up to 100,000 people over the next three months.

After meeting Mr. Blinken in Rzeszow, Mr. Rau said Russian attacks on civilians and nuclear power plants in Ukraine constituted war crimes. He demanded that Russia be vigorously pursued – and said he had raised the possibility of a joint effort between Poland and the United States to do so. “The pursuit of war criminals is part of the common memory of humanity,” he told reporters in Rzeszow. “It is our common obligation.”

Mr Kuleba said it was unclear what state Ukraine would be in when the fighting stopped – at any time – and noted that even limited efforts to secure a ceasefire -fire in at least two Ukrainian cities for humanitarian access had failed.

“But every war ends with diplomacy and talks, so we have to keep talking,” Kuleba said.

He added: “Thousands of people in Ukraine sacrifice their lives – men, women, old, young – to defend the country. When we win, and I have no doubt, we will build a new Ukraine. And this country will be even better than the one that Russia destroyed.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Blinken arrives in Poland to assess additional US aid to Ukraine
Blinken arrives in Poland to assess additional US aid to Ukraine
Newsrust - US Top News
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