Ukraine foreign minister says US promised more help to resist Russia

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during a meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York on Feb 23, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

KYIV (REUTERS) - Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday (March 1) that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had offered his country, which is under attack from its neighbour Russia, more support in the form of sanctions and weapons.

"In our call, Secretary Blinken affirmed that US support for Ukraine remains unfaltering," Mr Kuleba said on Twitter.

"I underscored that Ukraine craves for peace, but as long as we are under Russia's assault we need more sanctions and weapons. Secretary assured me of both. We coordinated further steps."

Washington has already implemented a range of sanctions in concert with other Western allies to limit Russia's access to overseas funds, investment or technology in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine.

The United States drew from its stocks to supply Ukraine with weaponry in the fall of 2021 and again in December, and on Friday, President Joe Biden instructed his State Department to release up to an additional US$350 million (S$475 million) worth of weapons from US stocks.

But the White House on Monday reacted coolly to a proposal by Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky for a no-fly zone for Russian flights over Ukraine, saying US participation in such a move would be tantamount to a direct conflict with Moscow, which Washington does not want.

White House spokesman Jen Psaki told reporters that implementing a no-fly zone would be a step toward sending US troops to fight Russia, whose forces began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24.

"A no-fly zone would require implementation," she said, adding it would require "deploying US military to enforce, which would be ... potentially a direct conflict, and potentially a war with Russia, which is something we are not planning to be a part of."

Asked separately about a no-fly zone for Russian flights over the United States, Ms Psaki said nothing was off the table, but she noted that many US airlines fly over Russia to get to Asia and other parts of the world - likely another reason for US reluctance.

"No option is off the table," she said. "We factor in a range of factors."

In the video address, Mr Zelensky did not specify how and by whom a no-fly zone would be enforced.

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