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U.S. will give Ukraine $322 million in military aid, send back diplomats, Blinken and Austin say on secret visit

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Ukrainian officials in their unannounced visit to Kyiv on Sunday that the U.S. will provide the country with $322 million in military aid and return diplomats to Ukraine, State Department officials told reporters. Austin told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the other officials that President Biden also approved $165 million in ammunition sales to Ukraine and that the first U.S. howitzers had arrived in Ukraine.

Blinken told Zelensky that Biden will nominate Bridget Brink, a veteran diplomat and current U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, as the new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, a position that has been vacant since Marie Yovanovitch was controversially recalled in May 2019. While Brink awaits confirmation, U.S. diplomats will "start with day trips into Lviv" and "graduate to potentially other parts of the country and ultimately, resume presence in Kyiv," a senior State Department official said

The U.S. had planned to keep the visit by Austin and Blinken under wraps until they were out of the country, but Zelensky hinted at it on Saturday and one of his advisers broke the news Sunday. The U.S., in confirming the visit, said Blinken and Austin met with Zelensky, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, and Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky for about three hours. It was Zelensky's first face-to-face meeting with a top U.S. official since Russia invaded.