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Pentagon chief in Kyiv to reassure backing

By REN QI in Moscow | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-11-22 10:10
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Photo taken on Feb 19, 2020 shows the Pentagon seen from an airplane over Washington, DC, the United States. [Photo/Xinhua]

The United States on Monday announced an additional package of military assistance to Ukraine worth $100 million, with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Kyiv for a visit to show Western support.

Austin announced the aid package after a day of meetings with Ukrainian officials, with the latest tranche including arms such as antitank weapons, air-defense interceptors and an additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

This is Austin's second trip to Kyiv since Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine in February 2022 but he is making it under different circumstances, as the world's attention is drawn to the Middle East and signs of fatigue setting in with the almost 21-month Russia-Ukraine conflict, The Associated Press commented.

It also marked the 51st round of US military aid to Ukraine to be provided from the Department of Defense's weapons inventories since August 2021.

Since February 2022, the US has provided more than $44.2 billion in weapons to Ukraine but the funding is nearly exhausted — the Pentagon can send about $5 billion more in weapons and equipment from its own stocks but it has only about $1 billion in funding to replace those stocks, AP reported.

As a result, recent announcements of weapons support have been of much smaller dollar amounts, such as the $100 million package announced in Kyiv by Austin, than in months past.

The Russian government has not made any response to Washington's new rounds of military aid to Kyiv.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Russia deeply regrets Finland's decision to close four border crossings with Russia and any potential plans to close all remaining checkpoints.

"This is deeply regrettable, because we had long-standing, very good relations with Finland, which were pragmatic, and based on mutual trust," Peskov said.

Finland's Prime Minister Petteri Orpo on Monday said the country may need to take further actions on its border with Russia. It came after the Finnish Cabinet recently announced the complete closure of border crossing points on the southeast border with Russia from Nov 18, 2023, to Feb 18, 2024.

Peskov rejected Finland's accusations against Russian border guards. Finland, which joined NATO this year, has accused Moscow of allowing migrants without valid travel documents through to the Finnish border.

On Tuesday, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius also arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday for an unannounced visit. It was Pistorius's second visit to Kyiv since he became defense minister at the start of this year.

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