Lloyd Austin has arrived in the Ukrainian capital to reaffirm “steadfast support” amid concerns about US military aid
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has arrived in Kiev on an unannounced visit, the Pentagon said on Monday. He held meetings with the Ukrainian leadership to provide reassurance about Washington’s commitment to providing military assistance to Ukraine, the statement said. However, no specific new aid packages were announced.
“I’m here today to deliver an important message – the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine,” Austin wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter) as he shared a photo of himself being welcomed by the Ukrainian officials at a railway station in Kiev.
Later, he also said he had held talks with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and once again promised “the United States’ steadfast support for Ukraine.” He added that Washington and its allies would provide for both the Ukrainian forces’ “urgent battlefield needs and long-term defense requirements.”
Neither Austin nor the Pentagon mentioned any specific new commitments regarding military assistance for Kiev. The US Department of Defense only said that the discussions in Kiev had been focused on ensuring that Kiev’s troops have the “battlefield capabilities they need” for the upcoming winter and beyond.
Two weeks ago, the Pentagon said only around $1 billion dollars is left for military assistance for Ukraine. Washington has spent around 95% of its previous funding for Kiev, Department of Defense deputy spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said at the time. It urged Congress to pass a new spending bill on Ukrainian aid so supplies can continue, adding that it would otherwise have to ration future deliveries. No such legislation has been adopted so far.
Earlier this week, Zelensky’s top aide, Mikhail Podoliak, criticized what he called the slow delivery of Western weapons. Aid deliveries are taking between “90 or 120 days” instead of the “seven to ten days” promised by Washington and its allies, he said.
A senior Russian MP called Austin’s visit a “mission of moral support.” The Pentagon chief’s main goal in Kiev was to prevent Washington’s pet “anti-Russia project” from collapsing and reassure the “puppet regime” in Ukraine of America’s support, Leonid Slutsky, the head of the Russian State Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote in a Telegram post.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu also said earlier this month that “despite the supply of new kinds of NATO weapons, the Kiev regime is losing.” The Ukrainian troops have been waging a major counteroffensive operation since early June, which has failed to bring about any tangible results so far despite ample Western military support. Ukraine’s losses in the assault have amounted to more than 90,000 troops, as well as about 600 tanks and 2,000 armored vehicles, according to the Russian minister.