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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday urged Western countries to remain united in the face of what he called “ruthless” Russian aggression against Ukraine, assuring the Ukrainian leader of their support.

Blinken told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a visit to Kyiv that the US and its allies were steadfast in supporting his country and its democratic aspirations amid growing fears of a potentially imminent Russian invasion.

He said Russia has plans to increase its military presence of about 100,000 troops along the border with Ukraine, a number that could soon double. Blinken also said he would not submit an official written response to Russia's demands when he meets Friday with Russia's foreign minister.

“The Ukrainian people chose a democratic and European path in 1991. They went to the Maidan to defend that choice in 2013, and unfortunately, you have faced relentless aggression from Moscow ever since,” Blinken said, referring to Ukraine’s trajectory since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Our strength depends on maintaining our unity and that includes unity within Ukraine,” he told Zelenskyy. “I think one of Moscow’s long-standing goals has been to try to create divisions between and within our countries and very simply, we can’t and won’t let them do that.”

The Biden administration previously said it provided an additional $200 million in defensive military aid to Ukraine to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Ukrainian government has asked Canada to grant the country access to military equipment and weapons during the crisis.

Zelenskyy thanked Blinken for the help, which was approved in late December but not formally confirmed until Wednesday, as well as for his visit and the guarantees of support.

 

 

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