NewsBlinken calls for urgent billion-dollar aid package for Ukraine

Blinken calls for urgent billion-dollar aid package for Ukraine

Antony Blinken during his visit to the Nexter factory in Versailles, which manufactures the Caesar self-propelled howitzers.
Antony Blinken during his visit to the Nexter factory in Versailles, which manufactures the Caesar self-propelled howitzers.
Images source: © PAP | YOAN VALAT

7:38 AM EDT, April 3, 2024

Ukraine is at a "critical moment," said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday in Paris. He urged American politicians to approve a new, billion-dollar aid package for Kyiv.

Highlighting the urgency, Blinken emphasized the need to supply Ukrainian forces "with everything they need," especially regarding ammunition and air defense capabilities. At a joint press conference with French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu, Blinken called on the U.S. Congress to quickly approve Kyiv's military and financial aid package.

In February, the U.S. Senate passed a $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific states, but the House of Representatives has yet to enact it.

France boosts Caesar production

During a Tuesday visit to the Nexter facilities in Versailles, Blinken and Lecornu observed the production of Caesar self-propelled howitzers, which are supplied to the Ukrainian army. "The production capacity has significantly increased from two to six monthly units. We plan to boost production to up to 12 guns per month in the future," Lecornu stated.

Last week, Lecornu mentioned that he might prioritize military orders in the industry. He explained that such measures would reinforce the French army and support Ukraine. Lecornu announced that France, with Denmark's support, will deliver 78 Caesar howitzers and provide about 88,185 pounds (around 80,000 units) of 155 mm caliber ammunition to Ukraine by year's end.

He assured us that all measures would be legally sound and could be implemented if there were delays in orders. Lecornu did not rule out "further actions in this direction in the coming weeks," underlining that military and financial efforts to support Ukraine are necessary and justified.

Meeting planned with Macron

On Tuesday evening, after he meets with Lecornu, Blinken is scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron. They will discuss key international crises, including Ukraine and the Middle East. Reuters reported that just before Blinken visited France, employees of the American humanitarian organization World Central Kitchen (WCK) were tragically killed in the Gaza Strip by an Israeli bombardment.

Before he visits the Elysee Palace, the U.S. Secretary of State will meet with French Foreign Minister Stephan Sejourne. Blinken will then travel to Belgium from France.

Related content