The U.S. promises to gradually reopen its embassy in Ukraine
POLAND — The U.S. promised to steadily re-establish its diplomatic presence in Ukraine in a new signal of Western support as the war reached its 2-month mark on Sunday.
News of the diplomatic pledge emerged after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Kyiv, as Zelenskyy urged the world to send more weapons and support to help his besieged country fight back against Russian invaders.
It's the first time top U.S. officials have traveled to Ukraine since Russian forces began their invasion on Feb. 24.
After the U.S. embassy in Ukraine relocated its staff from Kyiv to Poland before the start of the war, American diplomats will now begin a gradual return to the country — starting with day trips to Lviv in western Ukraine, followed by other cities, with a longer-term plan to eventually come back to the Ukrainian capital.
The U.S., which has taken a more cautious approach in its return, follows moves by the U.K. and other European countries to reopen their embassies in Kyiv.
Blinken also informed the Ukrainians that President Biden will name Bridget Brink to be ambassador to Ukraine. She's a career diplomat who is currently the ambassador to Slovakia. There has not been an official ambassador to Ukraine since 2019, when former President Donald Trump removed Marie Yovanovitch.
Speaking on Sunday in Poland, U.S. officials also gave an update on the military aid being sent to Ukraine.
Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. is taking cues from Ukrainian leaders as it assesses the country's artillery needs. To help with the fight in the eastern region known as the Donbas, the U.S. is sending howitzers — long-range weapons that are better suited for the area's flat terrain.
The U.S. says it's also training Ukrainians on how to use the weapons and giving $300 million more in foreign military financing so that Ukraine has more flexibility and can buy what it needs from other countries.
The new aid adds to the $800 million President Biden recently approved to help the Ukrainian effort in the Donbas. The Pentagon says it's committed at least $3.7 billion to Ukraine since the start of the war.
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