Blinken says US arms stabilising Ukraine’s front line


Antony Blinken says the US will “adapt and adjust” its support for Ukraine.
Antony Blinken says the US will “adapt and adjust” its support for Ukraine.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that American weapons being delivered to Kyiv were helping stabilise the front in Ukraine amid intensifying Russian attacks and that Washington would “adapt and adjust” its support.

The top US diplomat travelled to the Moldovan capital Chisinau, holding talks with pro-Western President Maia Sandu on the first stop of a brief Europe tour aimed at solidifying support for Kyiv across NATO allies and neighbouring countries.

The trip comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned of the threat of a global conflict if Kyiv’s Western allies allow it to use weapons they have supplied to strike inside Russia, something Kyiv is urging its partners to permit.

The United States has previously said it requested Kyiv not to use US weapons for direct attacks on Russia, but Blinken said it would “adjust and adapt”, when asked about Washington’s current position on the matter at a press conference.

“I think what you’ve seen over the two plus years, as the nature of the battlefield has changed, as the locations, the means that Russia is employing changed, we’ve adapted and adjusted to that… That’s exactly what we’ll do going forward,” he said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged members of the Western military alliance this week to lift restrictions on the use of their weapons to allow Ukraine to strike “legitimate military targets” inside Russia.

The United States is Kyiv’s most important supplier of weaponry and passed a $US61 billion ($A92 billion) aid package in April following a delay of months that exacerbated shortages of artillery shells.

Blinken said the US weapons supplies were now having a “real effect” and that Putin had not been able to achieve his goals in the Kharkiv area in northeastern Ukraine where Russian forces launched an offensive this month, opening a new front.

“On the contrary, I think what we see, again, stabilisation of the front and a failure in terms of Putin’s objectives,” he said.

Speaking alongside president Sandu on Wednesday, Blinken pledged $US50 million ($A75 million) in aid for Moldova and lasting US support, saying the country had shown an “extraordinary resilience” in the face of Russian “bullying” and “interference efforts”.

Under Sandu, Moldova has staunchly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and set its sights on joining the European Union.

Sandu said Blinken’s visit was “a strong sign of support” for Moldova.

“Through unity and with the support of our partners, we will stand by our people and move forward.”

Moldova, which holds a referendum in October to cement its bid to join the EU into its constitution, is a vocal supporter of Ukraine and sees its security as closely tied to Kyiv’s ability to hold back Russian forces.

“Support for Ukraine equals support for Moldova, but it also works the other way round. Supporting Moldova strengthens Ukraine because Ukraine needs a strong, democratic Moldova and a supportive neighbour because we share a 1,200-km border,” said Olga Rosca, Sandu’s foreign policy adviser.

Blinken will travel on to Prague on Wednesday to attend an informal gathering of NATO foreign ministers, which will focus on advancing preparations ahead of a July summit of the alliance in Washington.

The United States has been working with European allies to help Ukraine build its long-term force, efforts that would bring Kyiv closer to NATO. Individual members including the United States are working to reach bilateral agreements with Ukraine.

More than two years into the deadliest war in Europe since World War Two, Western allies are debating how to stop Russian military advances and Putin is increasingly evoking the risk of a global war.