The U.S. has pledged over $13.5 billion in security assistance since the wider conflict began in February

Posted BY: Cullen McCue | National File

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced an additional $2 billion worth of weapons and financial aid for the Ukrainian government during a surprise visit to the war-torn nation.

“Ukraine’s extraordinary front-line defenders continue to courageously fight for their country’s freedom,” Blinken said in a statement Thursday afternoon announcing the latest aid package. “And President Biden has been clear we will support the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

According to Blinken, the Biden Administration will make $2.2 billion available for long-term investments “to bolster the security of Ukraine and 18 of its neighbors.”

The latest announcement comes on top of $675 million in military aid to include more High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), as well as more munitions and armored vehicles, according to the State Department. That package was announced by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin earlier Thursday, who is in Germany meeting with NATO counterparts.

The combined funding announced Thursday — over $2.87 billion — will bring the total security assistance to Ukraine to $13.5 billion since February.

Meeting President Volodymyr Zelensky at his fortified presidential administration building in Kyiv, Blinken said his visit came at a “pivotal moment” for Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has claimed to have retaken a number of settlements along the Kherson and Kharkiv fronts in recent days, which Blinken commended.

“I think the reason for this success is that this is your homeland, not Russia’s, and it’s as basic as that,” Blinken told Zelensky. The Ukrainian leader was grateful for the United States’ “enormous support,” which he said was helping Ukraine “return our territory and lands.”

“This is a very important signal that the United States is with us,” Zelensky said.

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State Department officials have said that funding to Ukraine could continue for several years.  Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said last month that recent aid packages are not intended to affect “today’s fight” but to underscore “our commitment to supporting Ukraine for the long term.”

It is “the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional priority capabilities to Ukraine in the mid- and long-term to ensure Ukraine can continue to defend itself as an independent, sovereign and prosperous state,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement.

“This may be our largest security assistance package to date, but let me be clear, it won’t be our last,” Kahl said after last month’s $3 billion package was announced.