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Blinking signals US support for Ukraine with border meetings

US Secretary of State Blinken visits Lithuania
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken disembarks from his plane after arriving in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 6, 2022 for his visit. Olivier Douliery/Pool via REUTERS

March 7, 2022

By Simon Lewis

POLISH-UKRAINIAN BORDER (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met at Ukraine’s border with Poland on Saturday to discuss Western efforts to support Ukraine and isolate Russia during the current war that is now unfolding is in its 10th day to discuss.

Under tight security, Blinken and Kuleba held talks in a tent at the border, where refugees, mostly women and children, were also crossing with their belongings in wheeled luggage and backpacks.

The two men walked on either side of a painted line that appeared to mark the end of Polish territory.

“The whole world is behind Ukraine, just as I am here in Ukraine with my friend, my colleague,” said Blinken.

Kuleba added: “I hope the people of Ukraine will see this as a clear sign that we have friends who are literally standing by our side.”

The two discussed supplying arms to Ukraine and campaigning to isolate Russia internationally and hit its economy with sanctions, Kuleba said.

Ukraine will eventually win its war with Russia, he said, but its international backers need to provide more help to end the conflict sooner.

Above all, Ukraine needs fighter jets and air defense systems, he said, adding that Stinger anti-aircraft weapons provided by Western nations would help. Ukrainian forces shot down three Russian planes on Saturday, he said.

“If they continue to provide us with the necessary weapons, the price will be lower. It will save many lives,” he said.

Kuleba said he saw no progress in talks with Russia on a ceasefire on the Ukraine-Belarus border, but “we need to keep talking”. A third round is scheduled for Monday.

PRESSURE ON RUSSIA ‘GROWING GROWING’

Blinken had previously met with the Polish prime minister and foreign minister and visited a center housing refugees.

The number of refugees could rise from the current 1.3 million to 1.5 million by the end of the weekend, the head of the United Nations refugee agency said on Saturday.

Blinken arrived in Poland from Brussels, where he met foreign ministers from the NATO alliance, the G7 group and the European Union on Friday to discuss Western efforts to deter Russia through a program of tough sanctions.

Blinken said the sanctions are producing “tangible results,” citing the damage done to Russia’s economy in recent days. “Again, this pressure will not only continue, it will increase until this campaign is over,” he said.

Meanwhile, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday the chamber was “examining” legislation to ban imports of Russian oil and that Congress intended to allocate $10 billion in aid to Ukraine this week in response to to say goodbye to Russia’s military invasion of its neighbor.

NATO members are providing military aid to Ukraine, much of it going through Poland. But it has dismissed Ukrainian calls to enforce a no-fly zone over the country, saying it could provoke a much broader and even more dangerous conflict.

Russia describes its actions as “a special military operation” aimed at disarming Ukraine, countering what it sees as NATO aggression and capturing Ukrainian leaders it calls neo-Nazis.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis; Editing by Gareth Jones and Diane Craft)

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Bobby Allyn

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