Blinken & Austin Visit Ukraine For Meeting With Zelensky
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled in secrecy to Ukraine on Sunday to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, marking the first visit by high-ranking U.S. officials to war-torn Kyiv since Russia invaded in late February. Their visit was only confirmed after they were safely out of Ukraine.
The two officials spoke with reporters about the three-hour meeting after they arrived in Poland early Monday morning.
“We’re seeing that when it comes to Russian war aims, Russia is failing. Ukraine is succeeding,” Blinken said.
The U.S. promised Ukraine $713 million more in foreign military financing.
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“The first step in winning is believing that you can win,” Austin said. “We believe that they can win if they have the right equipment, the right support, and we’re going to do everything we can … to ensure that gets to them.”
During the meeting, Blinken told Zelensky that President Joe Biden would nominate Bridget Brink to become the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. The position had sat empty since former President Donald Trump‘s firing of Marie Yovanovitch in 2019. Blinken also delivered the news that U.S. diplomats will begin their return to Ukraine.
Austin announced that some of the howitzers promised to Ukraine had already arrived in the country and would be useful for fighting the Russians in the Donbas region.
“They’re now focused on a different type of terrain,” Austin said. “They need long-range fire.”
According to the defense secretary, 50 Ukrainians have completed artillery training in an unnamed third country and 50 more will begin their training soon.
The officials reiterated Biden’s stance that U.S. troops would not get involved and that the U.S. would not be imposing Ukraine’s requested no-fly zone.
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