US boosts military aid to Ukraine as Russia tensions soar

Kyiv (Ukraine): As US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Ukraine, the Biden administration said Wednesday it's providing an additional USD 200 million in defensive military aid to the country amid soaring fears of a Russian invasion.

A senior US State Department official said the assistance was approved in late December as part of American efforts to help Ukraine protect itself. Until Wednesday, however, the administration had refused to comment on it.

The official wasn't authorised to discuss the matter publicly before Blinken's meetings in Kyiv and spoke on condition of anonymity.

We are committed to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and will continue to provide Ukraine the support it needs, the official said.

The official did not detail the contents of the aid package.

The announcement came as Blinken opened a hastily arranged visit to Kyiv as he and other administration officials step up warnings about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The White House said Tuesday that Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine.

In comments to US Embassy staff in Kyiv, Blinken went further by saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin has plans to significantly enhance Moscow's military presence near Ukraine's border, which now numbers roughly 100,000 troops. We know that there are plans in place to increase that force even more on very short notice and that gives President Putin the capacity, also on very short notice, to take further aggressive action against Ukraine," Blinken said.

After his meetings with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other senior Ukrainian officials and a short trip to Berlin for talks with German and other European allies on Thursday, Blinken will see his Russian counterpart in Geneva on Friday.

That meeting is aimed at testing Russia's willingness to resolve the crisis diplomatically, officials said.

We're now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

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