US secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Defence chief Lloyd Austin meet with President Zelenskyy in Ukraine
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III traveled by train yesterday to Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, to meet with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“This was, in our judgment, an important moment to be there, an important moment for Ukraine, for the war — an important moment to have face-to-face conversations in detail about the extraordinary support that we’ve provided: security, economic, humanitarian, as well as the massive pressure that we’ve been exerting on Russia,” Blinken said.
Zelenskyy expressed deep appreciation for President Joe Biden’s leadership and for the incredible generosity and support of the American people, Blinken said.
“In turn, we expressed deep admiration for his leadership, for the extraordinary courage of Ukrainians in standing up to and pushing back this Russian aggression,” he said.
Discussions included returning U.S. diplomats to Ukraine starting next week, and Biden’s intent to nominate a new ambassador to Ukraine, Ambassador Bridget Brink, who is currently the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, Blinken said.
“Russia continues to try to brutalize parts of the country, and the death and destruction that we continue to see is horrific. But Ukrainians are standing up, they’re standing strong and they’re doing that with the support that we have coordinated from literally around the world,” Blinken said.
Massive pressure against Russia and solidarity with more than 30 countries engaged in providing security assistance is having real results, he said.
“We’re seeing that when it comes to Russia’s war aims, Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding. Russia has sought as its principal aim to totally subjugate Ukraine — to take away its sovereignty, to take away its independence. That has failed,” he said.
“[Russia] sought to assert the power of its military and its economy. We of course are seeing just the opposite — a military that is dramatically underperforming; an economy, as a result of sanctions, … that is in shambles. And it’s sought to divide the West and NATO; of course, we’re seeing exactly the opposite … with new countries considering applying for membership,” Blinken said.
Austin said that he and Blinken expressed condolences to Zelenskyy for the loss of so many civilians and they expressed their admiration for his courageous troops that have done a magnificent job of pushing back Russian forces.
The meeting with Zelenskyy focused on security assistance Ukraine would need to further beat back the Russian invaders, Austin said.
On April 21, a senior Defense Department official told the press that aid to Ukraine from the U.S., allies and partners is rapidly flowing into the country daily.
Counter-artillery radar; 155 mm howitzers; the Phoenix Ghost, a tactical unmanned aerial system and the training required to use the systems have been included in the latest and forthcoming security assistance, the official said.
Once this security assistance gets into Ukraine, it’s up to the Ukrainians where and how it will be employed, the official noted.