On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Minister Lloyd Austin traveled to the Ukrainian capital Kiev, where they met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials, making them the highest-level US officials to travel to the country since Russia began. its invasion.
Here are the key moments from this visit:
Blinken said U.S. diplomats would return to Ukraine this weeksaid a senior State Department official, characterizing the move as a strong message of solidarity from the United States.
As part of the resumed US diplomatic presence in Ukraine, diplomats will “start with day trips into Lviv” and “will upgrade to potentially other parts of the country and eventually to resume presence in Kiev,” according to a senior State Department official. . .
Austin: “We want to see Russia weakened” While in Kiev, Blinken and Austin also met with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov and Interior Minister Denys Monastrysky for an extended, about 90-minute bilateral meeting, the foreign ministry official said. The Secretary of Defense outlines some of the United States’ goals, while the country continues to support Ukraine’s efforts in the war.
“We want to see Russia weakened to such an extent that it can not do the kind of thing it has done by invading Ukraine,” Austin told a news conference at an undisclosed location in Poland near the Ukrainian border after the trip to Kiev. . “So it has already lost a lot of military capacity. And a lot of its troops, quite frankly. And we wish they did not have the capacity to reproduce that capacity very quickly.”
More help for Ukraine Blinken and Austin discussed the Biden administration’s intention to provide $ 713 million in additional foreign military funding to Ukraine and allied European and Balkan partners, according to the senior State Department official and a senior Defense Ministry official.
US President Joe Biden announced on Monday that he will nominate Bridget Brink as US Ambassador to Ukraine. The post, which has been without a confirmed ambassador since Marie Yovanovitch was recalled in May 2019. Brink is the current US ambassador to Slovakia.
Blinken and Austin’s visit came as the first tranche of about 50 Ukrainians will complete artillery training in a country outside Ukraine, the defense officer said. Another tranche of about 50 Ukrainians will also start training soon, a defender said.
Zelensky’s office issued a reading of Monday’s meeting, stressing the importance of US officials’ visits, saying the country “expects support from our partners.”
Officials reiterate no involvement of U.S. forces In a background briefing, state and defense officials made it clear that the U.S. military would still not be directly involved in the war.
In Monday’s press briefing, Austin said the United States believes Ukraine can win the war against Russia with “the right equipment and the right support.”
Will Biden visit? While officials hailed the trip as a testament to US involvement in Ukraine, they have also faced questions about why Biden did not make the trip himself.
“The president of the United States is something unique in terms of what travel would require. So it goes far beyond what a cabinet secretary would, or what virtually any other world leader would require,” the State Department official noted.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the country earlier this month. Top officials from the EU and the Baltics have also visited Zelensky in Kiev.
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