Thursday, May 19, 2022

Secretaries Blinken, Austin Meet President Zelenskyy in Kyiv

Washington, DC – Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III visited Kyiv, Ukraine, yesterday in a strong show of support to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in their struggle against Russian aggression.

Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin held a three-hour meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Defense Oleksiy Reznikov, Head of Presidential Administration Andriy Yermak, Chief of Defense General Valeriy Zaluzhny, and Ambassador Oksana Markarova in Kyiv. “They discussed America’s support for the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian people, including our significant assistance to Ukraine’s security, governance, economic, and humanitarian needs,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

A delegation led by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 24, 2022, to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In remarks to the press in Poland, Secretary Blinken said that the strategy and support for Ukraine put in place by the US and more than 30 other nations is showing results. “We’re seeing that when it comes to Russia’s war aims, Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding,” said Blinken. He noted that the result had been the opposite of what Russia had sought. It has failed to take away Ukraine’s sovereignty and divide the West and NATO.

Secretary Austin said that they had very productive discussions with Ukraine about security force assistance, training, and critical things to be discussed at Ramstein Airbase with the Chiefs of Defense (CHOD). “This session is focused on doing things to generate additional capability and capacity for the Ukrainian forces. And so it’s a great opportunity to get a good update from the CHOD and from the minister of defense and from the president on the things that they are focused on, the things that they need,” said Austin.

Blinken said that the US wants to do everything possible to help the Ukrainians bring this war to an end as quickly as possible, including enabling them to “strengthen their hand both on the battlefield right now, but also, eventually, at a negotiation if there is one.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken greets a Ukrainian official during a visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 24, 2022. Secretary Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III traveled to the Ukrainian capital to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. (DoD photo)

Secretary Austin said that the first step in winning is believing that you can win, and the Ukrainians believe they can. “We believe that they can win if they have the right equipment, the right support. And we’re going to do everything we can – continue to do everything we can to ensure that that gets there.” He added that their needs would change as the fight evolves, and the US and allies will be responsive to what the CHOD and the minister of defense need.

Secretary Blinken said that the US wants to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things it has done in invading Ukraine. Secretary Austin noted that Russia had lost much of its military capability and troops. “We want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability. We want to see the international community more united, especially NATO, and we’re seeing that, and that’s based upon the hard work of, number one, President Biden, but also our Allies and partners who have willingly leaned into this with us as we’ve imposed sanctions and as we’ve moved very rapidly to demonstrate that we’re going to defend every inch of NATO,” said Austin.

During their meeting with Ukraine’s government, Secretary Blinken shared that President Biden will nominate Bridget Brink, currently the US Ambassador to Slovakia, to be the next US Ambassador to Ukraine. Secretary Blinken also said that US diplomats would be returning to Ukraine this week. “The increased US presence demonstrates our support for Ukraine and is part of the US commitment to return our diplomats to our Embassy in Kyiv as soon as possible. This action will strengthen the Department’s ongoing commitment to facilitate humanitarian relief efforts and the delivery of assistance to the Government of Ukraine, while providing enhanced support to US citizens.”

Secretary Blinken informed the Ukraine government that the US intends to obligate more than $713 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for Ukraine and 15 other Allied and partner nations in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkan region. This includes $650 million in funding provided by the Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022. More than $322 million in this obligation is to support the capabilities Ukraine needs as Russia’s forces increase their focus on the Donbas. This assistance will also help Ukraine’s armed forces transition to advanced weapons and air defense systems. It will also help NATO Allies with backfilling capabilities they have donated to Ukraine from their own stockpiles.

Secretary Austin also informed the Government of Ukraine that the US Department of Defense would increase military training for Ukrainian service members on certain weapons systems. The US has accelerated the delivery of these weapons, which are now arriving within days of announcement. He emphasized that, along with its Allies and partners, the US will continue to arrange the shipment of additional heavy weaponry, ammunition, and spare parts from other nations.

Secretary Blinken spoke to the UN secretary-general António Guterres on Friday. “He is heading to Moscow early this week, and our expectation is that he’s going to carry a very strong and clear message to Vladimir Putin, which is the need to end this war now – the need for a ceasefire; the need for humanitarian corridors, for aid to get in, for people to be able to get out; the need for Russia to stop its brutalization of Ukraine. It’s a clear, direct message that he should be carrying on behalf of virtually the entire international community.”

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Poonam Sharma
Editor

Poonam is a multi-media journalist, and Founder and Editor of Global Strat View. She was the Managing Editor of India America Today (IAT) for seven years, and launched its print edition in 2019 with IAT's Founder and Editor, the late Tejinder Singh.

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