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Blinken in Kyiv tries to rally sagging Ukrainian spirits as Russia makes new military gains

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Blinken in Kyiv tries to rally sagging Ukrainian spirits as Russia makes new military gains
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Blinken in Kyiv tries to rally sagging Ukrainian spirits as Russia makes new military gains

2024-05-15 06:16 Last Updated At:06:22

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them during a visit to Kyiv that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way after months of political delays will make a “real difference” on the battlefield.

After a day of meetings with senior officials, civil society figures and university students when he exhorted them against being discouraged, Blinken took to the stage at a bar in Ukraine's capital to play rhythm guitar and sing with a local band on Neil Young's 1989 hit “Rockin' in the Free World."

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An apartment building damaged in the Russian missile attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrii Marienko)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them during a visit to Kyiv that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way after months of political delays will make a “real difference” on the battlefield.

Police officers inspect part of a Russian missile that fell close to an apartment building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrii Marienko)

Police officers inspect part of a Russian missile that fell close to an apartment building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrii Marienko)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses students and and professors in Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses students and and professors in Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, leaves the stage after addressing students and and professors in Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, leaves the stage after addressing students and and professors in Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

From left, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Tom Sullivan and Spokesperson Matt Miller visit the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

From left, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Tom Sullivan and Spokesperson Matt Miller visit the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kyiv, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kyiv, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses students and and professors in Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses students and and professors in Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, fourth left, speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, third right, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, fourth left, speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, third right, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, attends a meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, attends a meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, watches Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, watches Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, arrives by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, arrives by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kiev, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kiev, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, front, waits with Ukrainian Railways staff and others to greet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, front, waits with Ukrainian Railways staff and others to greet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, arrives by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, arrives by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kiev, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kiev, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, walks to board a Ukrainian Railways train at Przemysl Glowny train station while traveling to Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 13, 2024, from Przemysl, Poland. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, walks to board a Ukrainian Railways train at Przemysl Glowny train station while traveling to Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 13, 2024, from Przemysl, Poland. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink after arriving by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski(Photographers name/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink after arriving by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski(Photographers name/Pool Photo via AP)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, Monday, May 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, Monday, May 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kiev, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kiev, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

The performance, and a series of sunny comments from Blinken about Ukraine’s battlefield prospects, was a startling juxtaposition to what analysts have called one of the most dangerous moments for Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. Russian forces have taken swaths of territory along Ukraine’s northeast border, and thousands of civilians in the Kharkiv region have fled the increasingly intense attacks.

But Blinken told Ukrainian leaders during his unannounced visit to Kyiv that despite a lengthy delay in U.S. military aid that left them vulnerable to these renewed Russian military strikes, more weaponry is coming and some has already arrived.

He made the case even as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to him personally for more air defense systems to protect civilians under intense Russian fire in the northeast. Blinken, on fourth trip to Kyiv since the war began, also lambasted Russian President Vladimir Putin for underestimating Ukraine's determination to fight back.

“We meet at a critical moment,” he told students at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. “The coming weeks and months will demand a great deal of Ukrainians, who have already sacrificed so much. I’ve come to Ukraine with a message: You are not alone.”

He also pushed back on the notion that time is on Putin’s side.

“Putin has it wrong — time is on Ukraine’s side," Blinken said. "As the war goes on, Russia is going back in time. Ukraine is moving forward.”

But the reality on the ground is that Moscow’s troops have captured about 100 to 125 square kilometers (40 to 50 square miles) in recent days in the northeast Kharkiv region, including at least seven villages, according to open-source monitoring analysts. People had already left most of those villages, but the fighting drove out thousands of others.

Seeking to take advantage of Ukrainian shortages in manpower and weapons while new U.S. assistance is in transit, Russian forces also have been making a concerted push in the east to drive deeper into the partly occupied Donetsk region. The main focus of Russian attacks Tuesday was Pokrovsk, just inside the Ukrainian border in Donetsk, where the Kremlin’s forces launched 24 assaults, the Ukrainian general staff said in a report.

“We know this is a challenging time,” Blinken told Zelenskyy after arriving on an overnight train from Poland. But, he added that U.S. military aid is “going to make a real difference against the ongoing Russian aggression on the battlefield.”

Congress approved a long-delayed foreign assistance package last month that sets aside $60 billion in aid for Ukraine, much of which will go toward replenishing badly depleted artillery and air defense systems. Since then, the Biden administration has announced $1.4 billion in short-term military assistance and $6 billion in longer-term support.

Zelenskyy thanked Blinken for the aid but said more is necessary, including two Patriot air defense systems urgently needed to protect Kharkiv.

“The people are under attack: civilians, warriors, everybody. They’re under Russian missiles,” he said.

Artillery, air defense interceptors and long-range ballistic missiles have already been delivered, some of them already to the front lines, said a senior U.S. official traveling with Blinken who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity ahead of Blinken’s meetings.

Moscow’s renewed offensive in Kharkiv is the most significant border incursion since the early days of the war, following months when the roughly 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line barely budged.

More than 7,500 civilians have been evacuated from the area, according to authorities. At the same time, the Kremlin’s forces are expanding their push to the northern border regions of Sumy and Chernihiv, Ukrainian officials say, and Kyiv's outgunned and outnumbered soldiers are struggling to hold them back.

Troops fought street to street on the outskirts of Vovchansk, among the largest towns in the Kharkiv area, regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said on national television. Two civilians were killed in Russian shelling Tuesday, he said.

The U.N. human rights office said the battles are taking a heavy toll.

“We are deeply concerned at the plight of civilians in Ukraine,” Liz Throssell, spokeswoman for the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in Geneva. “In the Kharkiv region, the situation is dire.”

Russia in recent weeks also has launched wide attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure. The operator of the national high-voltage electricity grid, Ukrenergo, said it was starting “controlled emergency shutdowns” for industries and households because of “a significant shortage of electricity in the system due to Russian shelling and an increase in consumption due to the cold weather.”

Blinken told Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal that the U.S. intends to support Kyiv beyond the war's end.

“The United States is determined, determined to help Ukraine succeed — succeed both in the battlefield victory but also succeed, as we would say, in winning the peace and building the strongest possible Ukraine,” Blinken said.

But delays in U.S. assistance, particularly since the Israel-Hamas war has preoccupied top administration officials, have triggered deep concerns in Kyiv and Europe. Blinken, for example, has visited the Middle East seven times since the war in Gaza began in October. His last trip to Kyiv was in September.

Blinken went with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba for lunch at a Kyiv pizza restaurant founded by Ukrainian veterans, calling it “superb.” On Blinken’s last visit, the pair ate at a recently reopened McDonald’s restaurant.

Blinken and other U.S. officials said despite some recent setbacks, Ukraine could still claim significant victories. Those include reclaiming some 50% of the territory Russian forces took in the early months of the war, boosting its economic standing and improving transportation and trade links, not least through military successes in the Black Sea.

Meanwhile, Putin plans to make a two-day state visit to China this week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. Beijing has backed Moscow politically in the war and has sent machine tools, electronics and other items seen as contributing to the Russian war effort, without actually exporting weaponry.

Associated Press writers Illia Novikov in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this report.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

An apartment building damaged in the Russian missile attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrii Marienko)

An apartment building damaged in the Russian missile attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrii Marienko)

Police officers inspect part of a Russian missile that fell close to an apartment building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrii Marienko)

Police officers inspect part of a Russian missile that fell close to an apartment building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrii Marienko)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses students and and professors in Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses students and and professors in Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, leaves the stage after addressing students and and professors in Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, leaves the stage after addressing students and and professors in Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

From left, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Tom Sullivan and Spokesperson Matt Miller visit the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

From left, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Tom Sullivan and Spokesperson Matt Miller visit the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kyiv, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kyiv, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses students and and professors in Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses students and and professors in Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken performs "Rockin' in the Free World" with members of The 1999 band at the Barman Dictat bar in Kyiv, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way to the country would make a “real difference” on the battlefield. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool photo via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, fourth left, speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, third right, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, fourth left, speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, third right, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, attends a meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, attends a meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, watches Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, watches Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacks. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, arrives by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, arrives by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kiev, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kiev, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, front, waits with Ukrainian Railways staff and others to greet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, front, waits with Ukrainian Railways staff and others to greet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, arrives by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, arrives by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kiev, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kiev, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, walks to board a Ukrainian Railways train at Przemysl Glowny train station while traveling to Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 13, 2024, from Przemysl, Poland. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, walks to board a Ukrainian Railways train at Przemysl Glowny train station while traveling to Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 13, 2024, from Przemysl, Poland. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink after arriving by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski(Photographers name/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink after arriving by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station May 14, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski(Photographers name/Pool Photo via AP)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, Monday, May 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, Monday, May 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kiev, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling on a Ukraine Railways train to Kiev, Monday, May 13, 2024, near Lviv, Ukraine. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

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No time for a Stanley Cup hangover as the NHL offseason is already here

2024-06-26 06:37 Last Updated At:06:40

The Stanley Cup was still on the ice when Patric Hornqvist offered up a sobering thought surrounded by former teammates and other family revelers holding cans of beer during the celebration.

The newly crowned champion Florida Panthers had work to do already because the offseason is already here for them and the NHL's other 31 teams.

The buyout window opens Wednesday, the draft is Friday and Saturday and the start of free agency is Monday, squeezing a flurry of activity to prepare for 2024-25 into a tight window.

“It’s crazy,” said Hornqvist, a two-time Cup-winning player who's now in Florida's front office. “A quick turnaround.”

The season stretching into summer and the final between the Panthers and Edmonton Oilers going the distance to Game 7 set up this quick turnaround.

Less than 12 hours after the Cup was awarded, Colorado re-signed forward Casey Mittelstadt for three more years and Winnipeg extended defenseman Dylan DeMelo.

Some teams did not wait to take care of business. Boston and Ottawa made a major goalie trade finalized Monday night sending 2023 Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark to the Senators for Joonas Korpisalo, depth forward Mark Kastelic and a first-round pick.

The Bruins will be making that selection Friday at the Sphere in Las Vegas long after San Jose leads off the draft with the expected choice of Macklin Celebrini with the first pick. After the Sharks' trying year in the NHL basement, they are eager for the draft, trade and free agent frenzy to get underway.

“Kind of a little bit scrambling and busy time, but I think everyone’s been doing their homework and people will be prepared,” general manager Mike Grier said. "This is a rewarding week for the franchise and for our scouts, who have done a ton of work. ... It’s an exciting time. We’re looking forward to it. It’s busy, but it’s a fun time in the end.”

It should be fun for players such as 57-goal scorer Sam Reinhart, who also got the Cup clincher, and others such as Jake Guentzel and 2023 playoff MVP Jonathan Marchessault who are set to cash in as pending free agents. Less so for those on the trade market and potentially on the move, from Anaheim's Trevor Zegras to Toronto's Mitch Marner.

There are also teams with more difficult offseason tasks than others. The Oilers, fresh off losing in the final, don't even have a GM under contract beyond this week and are in danger of serious roster turnover if a handful of free agents depart.

The New York Rangers could also be active and attempting to retool after getting knocked out by the Panthers in the Eastern Conference final. They already cleared salary cap space by waiving Barclay Goodrow, who was claimed by San Jose.

Formerly the Arizona Coyotes and relocated to Salt Lake City, the Utah Hockey Club has roughly $40 million to spend to the cap under new owner Ryan Smith and his group, but don't expect a signing bonanza from GM Bill Armstrong.

“There’s a little bit of a chess game for us where we have to bring in some players, but we don’t plan on using all that money and spending right out the window and locking ourselves in for the next seven years,” Armstrong said Tuesday. “We want to be smart about how we use our money.”

The buyout window is one of the first dominos to fall, opening Wednesday to give teams the opportunity to shed unwanted contracts. The cap is also going up to $88 million, a bigger jump than expected thanks to revenue outpacing projections during a memorable season that no one has time to reflect on yet because there is so much work to be done in a short period of time.

“It happens fast,” Buffalo GM Kevyn Adams said. “You’ve got to be ready.”

AP Hockey Writer John Wawrow contributed.

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

FILE - Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) makes a save during Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series, April 22, 2024, in Boston. The Bruins traded 2023 Vezina Trophy winning goaltender Ullmark to the Ottawa Senators on Monday, June 24, in exchange for the Senators' 2024 first-round draft pick, forward Mark Kastelic and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

FILE - Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) makes a save during Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series, April 22, 2024, in Boston. The Bruins traded 2023 Vezina Trophy winning goaltender Ullmark to the Ottawa Senators on Monday, June 24, in exchange for the Senators' 2024 first-round draft pick, forward Mark Kastelic and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, left, presents Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov (16) with the NHL hockey Stanley Cup after winning the Final against the Edmonton Oilers in Sunrise, Fla., Monday, June 24, 2024. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, left, presents Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov (16) with the NHL hockey Stanley Cup after winning the Final against the Edmonton Oilers in Sunrise, Fla., Monday, June 24, 2024. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

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