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US sending military aid to Ukraine to help ‘repel Russia’s assault near Kharkiv’

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Oleksandr Magula/Suspilne Ukraine/JSC "UA:PBC"/Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

By Jennifer Hansler, CNN

(CNN) — The United States is sending $275 million in military assistance to Ukraine as part of “efforts to help Ukraine repel Russia’s assault near Kharkiv,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Friday.

The top US diplomat said the new tranche of assistance “contains urgently needed capabilities” for Ukrainian troops as they fight to hold back Russia’s advances toward the key northeastern city.

“We will move this new assistance as quickly as possible so the Ukrainian military can use it to defend their territory and protect the Ukrainian people,” Blinken said in a statement.

In a post on X Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his gratitude for the new aid package, saying it “is critical right now, as the enemy intensifies attacks along the frontline.”

“Today in Kharkiv, I witnessed firsthand the importance of strengthening our warriors in order to protect our people, our cities, and our communities. Freedom is the value both of our nations hold dear. To protect it, we require continued strong support from the United States and other allies,” Zelensky wrote.

Russian forces have advanced toward Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, after launching a surprise cross-border assault in mid-May. Seven people were killed in a barrage of Russian missile strikes Thursday.

Ukrainian forces have been forced to contend with weapons shortfalls as they fight to hold off the advances. CNN journalists in the town of Lyptsi, around 20 miles north of Kharkiv city, saw troops using aging and inadequate weaponry, in an attempt to repel highly equipped Russian units bolstered by drones.

The latest US military assistance package – the fifth since the passage of a multi-billion dollar national security funding package – includes artillery rounds, Javelin and TOW missiles, ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), demolitions munitions, anti-armor mines, tactical vehicles, and body armor, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear protective equipment, Blinken said.

The top US diplomat traveled to Ukraine last week to reaffirm the US’ support to Zelensky and other top Ukrainian officials after the passage of that national security supplemental.

“We are determined that Ukraine win this war and succeed for its people and for its future,” Blinken said at a press conference alongside Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. “We’re committed to making sure that Ukraine has the equipment it needs to succeed on the battlefield.”

However, the US has continued to say its weapons cannot be used by Ukraine to strike Russian targets on Russian territory.

“We have not encouraged or enabled strikes outside of Ukraine,” Blinken reiterated last week.

Meanwhile, G7 finance ministers are meeting in Italy to discuss plans to marshal Russian assets that were frozen overseas at the outset of the war toward Ukraine’s defense and reconstruction, according to people familiar with the matter. The plan, if finalized, would see US and European banks redirect tens of billions of dollars in proceeds from Russian investments toward Ukraine – providing a critical financial lifeline as the continued political wherewithal by Ukraine’s major benefactors remains uncertain.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

CNN’s Kayla Tausche contributed to this report.

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