Blinken promises Ukraine support for winter

Ukrainian official Andriy Yermak is seen in Washington in September 2023 (Brendan Smialowski)
Ukrainian official Andriy Yermak is seen in Washington in September 2023 (Brendan Smialowski)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday promised a top Ukrainian official sustained US support including help to get through the winter, with Russia feared to strike Kyiv's infrastructure again.

Blinken met Andriy Yermak, a top aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky, on a brief stop back in Washington in between the top US diplomat's latest Middle East crisis tour and an Asia-Pacific summit in San Francisco.

Despite the new focus on the Muddle East, President Joe Biden has vowed to keep up the tens of billions of dollars for Ukraine to fight back Russian invaders, but he faces skepticism from parts of the rival Republican Party.

"We, in all of our conversations with the Ukrainian government, make clear that we will continue to stand by them, that we will continue to back them," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

Blinken spoke to Yarmak about "steps we can take together with Ukraine to harden its infrastructure for the upcoming winter," Miller said.

"We, of course, in the last winter saw Russia trying to take down energy sites in Ukraine. They may very well do that again."

Biden has sought to couple a request to Congress for $61 billion to Ukraine with $14 billion for Israel, but Republicans have advanced only the Israel portion and tied it to cutting the budget of the US tax collection agency.

Yermak thanked Blinken for the US support on X, formerly known as Twitter.

He also said Ukrainians were "touched" by the Halloween costumes of Blinken's children. Blinken's son went to a White House trick-or-treating event dressed in Zelensky's trademark military fatigues and his daughter in the Ukrainian flag's yellow and blue.