By Hanna Arhirova | Associated Press
KYIV, Ukraine — U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Monday her first visit to Ukraine underscored Washington’s commitment to continuing its economic support for the country, as the din of air raid sirens echoed across the Ukrainian capital.
Yellen said following talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal that the US has provided nearly $50 billion in security, economic and humanitarian assistance and announced another multibillion dollar package to boost the country’s economy.
Shmyhal offered thanks to the U.S. for its support and hailed Yellen as a “friend of Ukraine.” He said Ukraine’s budget deficit now stands at $38 billion and that the U.S. will provide another $10 billion in assistance by September.
Shmyhal and Yellen also discussed sanctions aimed at weakening Russia’s economy as well as the possibility of using Russian frozen assets to help in Ukraine’s economic recovery.
Yellen repeated U.S. President Joe Biden’s message that Washington will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. She underscored the importance of fighting corruption, praising Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for enacting measures to ensure transparency in how the assistance is spent.
The U.S. official also visited a renovated school that had its windows blown out by the blast wave from a Russian missile that landed nearby in March. She also announced an additional transfer of $1.2 billion, the first tranche of the $10 billion assistance package.
“Maintaining an effective government is indispensable to Ukraine’s capacity to respond to Russian attacks and other emergencies,” said Yellen. “Our economic support is keeping essential public services running. These services maintain economic and social stability in Ukraine.”
Addressing the school’s students and teachers, Yeller said they are helping to “write history” in a country that is “a central force in the history of the free world.”
“America stands with you in this fight for freedom, and we will be by your side and help you rebuild.”
Yellen also met with Zelenskyy and other top officials, including the head of Ukraine’s National Bank.
Zelenskyy posted on Telegram after the meeting with Yellen that it is “necessary to strengthen further sanctions to deprive Russia of the ability to finance the war.”
Yellen also laid the flowers at the Wall of Remembrance dedicated to fallen soldiers and met Ukrainian landmine removal experts whose equipment was financed with US funds.