Russia’s war in Ukraine is likely to “go on for some time” and now is the time to increase military aid, the US secretary of state said.
Antony Blinken says ‘ferocious’ fighting continues along Ukraine’s eastern front – but western partners determined to ‘make sure Ukrainians have what they need to get back what they lost and deal with Russian aggression “.
Mr Blinken, who was at a news conference in Washington DC alongside British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, also warned Russia would continue to “use energy to try and punish countries that support Ukraine”.
“Unfortunately, I expect this to continue for some time,” Mr Blinken said.
“But together we are determined … to make sure Ukrainians have what they need to regain what they lost and to deal with Russian aggression. That hasn’t changed.”
Mr Cleverly has traveled to Washington for talks on the war and spoke alongside Mr Blinken in an attempt to encourage Western leaders to step up their support.
pointing to british Deliver 14 tanks As for Ukraine, Mr Cleverly said it was important to have “the right equipment at the right time” so Kyiv could fight the necessary battles.
Mr Blinken welcomed the UK’s decision to supply Ukraine with the British Army’s Challenger 2 main battle tank.
The U.S. secretary of state said the U.S. would make an announcement in the coming days, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin would chair talks with key allies later this week in Ramstein, Germany.
“We’re constantly delivering what Ukraine needs, and we’re doing it in a way that ensures we’re responding to what’s actually happening on the battlefield and anticipating where it’s likely to go,” he said.
“We are determined to ensure that Ukraine has what it needs to succeed on the battlefield.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for the purchase of around 300 modern Western main battle tanks to enable his forces to launch an offensive against Russian aggressors.
In practice, this could mean that there are probably far more American Abrams tanks and German Leopard 2 tanks — or a combination of the two — than there are Challenger 2s.
Analysis: New posture needed as ‘war weather’ looms
The key words in the press conferences of the British Foreign Secretary and the US Secretary of State?
“Stay tuned” – what Secretary Blinken said when asked if or when the US would follow the UK’s initiative to send tanks to Ukraine.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly did not come to Washington to tell allies what weapons to supply Ukraine. After all, for the past 11 months, the United States has led the way in arming Ukraine for its own defense.
But the foreign secretary hopes Britain’s decision to supply Ukraine with its Challenger 2 tanks will gently inspire other countries to follow suit.
The “stay tuned” meeting is this week’s meeting of the so-called West Ukraine Contact Group in Germany.
Defense ministers and their military chiefs will discuss Ukraine’s next steps.
Top U.S. General Mark Milley will be in attendance. In the past day, he met with his Ukrainian counterpart at the border with Poland and Ukraine.
We were told that General Milley wanted a first-hand assessment of the battlefield from General Valery Zaluzhny of Ukraine. You can bet Zaluzhny told Milley “we need your tank”.
Back here in Washington, beyond our questions and carefully noncommittal answers, the subtext of Cleverly and Blinken is an acknowledgment that this war is still some time away, that winter and spring will bring new Russian offensives, and that Putin has time in the his side.
This, the British say, is why now is the time to increase not only the number of weapons against Ukraine, but also the types of them.
In war, facts on the ground drive the usually ensuing peace negotiations.
With the arrival of warmer war weather, these facts have the potential to change significantly in one way or another.
Mr Cleverley, who is in Washington urging Americans to support Ukraine “further and faster”, praised US efforts so far, noting that the US was the single largest supplier of military and economic aid to Ukraine.
He said the US and UK had “worked closely” with other allies since the conflict began to ensure Ukraine had the support it needed.
“In living memory, Russia has never been so isolated and the Atlantic Alliance so united,” he said.
“If Putin thinks the world will succumb to Ukrainian fatigue and lose the will to resist his ambitions, then it is yet another colossal miscalculation on his part.”
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Mr Blinken also reiterated the US government’s call for a negotiated settlement of the dispute between the UK and the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Following talks with Mr Cleverly, Mr Blinken said he had highlighted President Joe Biden’s unequivocal support for the Belfast/Good Friday agreement.
“The United States believes that a negotiated solution to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol that is acceptable to all parties must be negotiated,” he said. “We are encouraged that in recent days the UK and the EU have made substantial progress towards a negotiated solution .”
Meanwhile, China said it would welcome a visit by Mr Blinken, with reports that he will be there in early February.