Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia’s invasion has garnered significant praise from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, despite the visit being overshadowed by a tragic Russian attack that claimed the lives of at least 17 individuals.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy condemned the assault, which targeted a bustling market in the frontline town of Kostiantynivka, near the war-ravaged city of Bakhmut.
Among the casualties was a child, while at least 32 people sustained injuries.
President Zelenskiy passionately described this event as an act of “Russian evil” and a deliberate attack on a “peaceful city.”
Aides shared footage showing an explosion, presumably from a missile, and the ensuing panic as people sought cover or fell to the ground.
Russia remained silent on the attack and has consistently denied intentionally targeting civilians throughout its 18-month-long invasion, which has left towns and cities devastated and claimed thousands of civilian lives.
Secretary Blinken, the first high-ranking U.S. official to visit Kyiv since the counteroffensive commenced in early June, announced a new U.S. wartime assistance package exceeding $1 billion.
This aid encompasses support for Ukraine’s air defenses and aims to sustain and bolster the ongoing progress in the counteroffensive.
The U.S. media had criticized the pace and tactics of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, drawing sharp rebukes from Ukrainian officials.
Despite these criticisms, Ukraine has reclaimed numerous villages and small settlements in its offensive, though progress has been hindered by minefields and trenches.
The new U.S. aid includes HIMARS missile launch systems, Javelin antitank weapons, Abrams tanks, and other weapon systems.
The Pentagon also intends to send depleted uranium ammunition.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peso expressed Moscow’s belief that Washington would continue funding Ukraine’s military efforts, characterizing it as a commitment to “wage this war to the last Ukrainian.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba emphasized the importance of arming Ukraine to protect the world from Moscow’s aggression.
The European Union strongly condemned the heinous and barbaric Russian attack on the Kostiantynivka market, which occurred on the second day of Blinken’s visit to Kyiv, pledging to hold those responsible accountable.
As shells rained down on the market, eyewitnesses like pharmacy employee Diana Khodak recalled the chaos and panic that ensued.
Medical personnel rushed to assist the injured, reflecting the stark human toll of such conflicts.
Blinken’s visit coincided with Ukraine’s parliament approving the appointment of Rust Umerov as defense minister following the dismissal of Oleksii Reznikov.
The visit also included discussions with Danish Prime Minister Mettle Fredericks, who conveyed Denmark’s donation of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine and its leadership in a coalition training Ukrainian pilots.
The U.S. has provided substantial military aid to Ukraine, totaling over $43 billion since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.
Concerns persist about the future of U.S. support for Ukraine, particularly as the 2024 election campaign approaches, with some Republican presidential hopefuls questioning the extent of this assistance.