Kyiv, Ukraine

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin announced $US100 million in new military aid to Ukraine during an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Monday, pledging long-term American support amid growing concerns about the sustainability of vital US assistance.

Austin announced the aid package after a day of meetings with Ukrainian officials, with the latest tranche including arms such as anti-tank weapons, air-defence interceptors and an additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). 

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks to employees of the US Embassy in Kyiv during his visit to Ukraine, on 20th November, 2023.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks to employees of the US Embassy in Kyiv during his visit to Ukraine, on 20th November, 2023. PICTURE: WG Dunlop/Pool via Reuters

Austin, accompanied by the top US general in Europe, was photographed smiling and shaking hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. It marked Austin's first visit to Kyiv since April, 2022.

"The message that I bring you today, Mr President, is that the United States of America is with you. We will remain with you for the long haul," Austin told Zelenskiy after an overnight train ride into Ukraine from Poland.


Russian shelling killed three people on Monday and damaged power lines and a gas pipeline in the central Dnipropetrovsk and southern Kherson regions of Ukraine, authorities said. 

An elderly woman was killed and a man injured in Russian artillery strike on the town of Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk's Governor said. 

"A power line and a gas pipeline were damaged," Serhiy Lysak, the governor, said on Telegram messenger. 

On Monday morning, two drivers were killed when Russian forces shelled a private transport company parking lot in Kherson, regional Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said. 

Regional prosecutors said they had opened a war crimes investigation into the artillery strike, which occurred at around 9am and injured one other person.

Russian forces have regularly shelled Kherson from across the Dnipro River since the regional capital was deoccupied by Ukrainian troops last November.

Ukraine said last week it had secured a foothold on the eastern bank of the Dnipro and that its troops were trying to push Russian forces further back.

- DAN PELESCHUK and YULIIA DYSA, Kyiv, Ukraine/Reuters

Zelenskiy told Austin that his visit was "a very important signal" for Ukraine.

"We count on your support," Zelenskiy told Austin. 

The United States has provided more than $US44 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in February, 2022.

"I think they are prepared for combat in the winter," Austin told reporters after his meetings. 

"They did a great job last year. This year we expect them to be, just based on what...President Zelenskiy has said, them to be even more aggressive," Austin added. 

The trip comes amid increasing division over aid for Ukraine in the US Congress, with a US presidential election coming in November 2024. Some American lawmakers are prioritising aid to Israel even as US defence officials stress that Washington can support both allies simultaneously.

In a statement on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken appealed for lawmakers to approve more aid. 

"It is critical for Congress to take action to support Ukraine by passing the President’s supplemental funding request," Blinken said. 

"Helping Ukraine defend itself...helps prevent larger conflict in the region and deters future aggression, which makes us all safer."

Privately, some top Ukrainian officials have voiced concern that deliveries of military aid may become less frequent, reflecting broader unease over the levels of support needed to sustain the war against Russia. Ukraine's budget for next year has a deficit of more than $40 billion which needs to be filled.

Stop-gap spending bill
President Joe Biden had asked Congress to approve more money for Ukraine last month. Its omission from a stop-gap spending bill passed by lawmakers last week raised concerns that funding for Ukraine might never be appropriated, especially after the Republican-led House of Representatives passed a bill including assistance for Israel but not Ukraine.

A vocal bloc of Republicans oppose sending more aid to Ukraine. Opponents of the aid have said US taxpayer money should be spent at home, but a majority of Republicans and Democrats in Congress still support aid to Zelenskiy's government.

A joint Ukraine-US military industry conference in Washington, due to take place on 6th and 7th December, is intended to boost Ukraine's domestic arms production as the war drags towards the two-year mark. 

Russia now controls nearly a fifth of Ukraine. The West sent in military equipment and Ukraine mounted a counteroffensive push this year to retake occupied land, but it has not made a big breakthrough. 

- With reporting by PHIL STEWART and IDREES ALI in Washington DC, US