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U.S. Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin met Ukrainian President in a secret trip

Newsman: The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met the with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv in a secretive visit to the Ukraine. Speaking after they met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and others in the country’s capital, these American officials offered robust support for Kyiv’s cause. The trip by Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was the highest-level American visit to Ukraine’s capital since Russia invaded in late February. After a secrecy-shrouded visit to Kyiv, the  top officials from Washington tol  Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his advisers that the U.S. would provide more than $300 million in foreign military financing, and had already approved a $165 million sale of ammunition.

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken said that “Russia is failing” to achieve its war aims and “Ukraine is succeeding.” Blinken also said U.S. diplomats returning to Ukraine likely would restaff the consulate in Lviv, in western Ukraine, before returning to the capital. They previously said the diplomats would start returning this week. The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv will remain closed for the time being.

“We had an opportunity to demonstrate directly our strong ongoing support for the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people. This was, in our judgment, an important moment to be there to have face-to-face conversations in detail,” Blinken told reporters Monday near the Polish-Ukrainian border, after returning from Kyiv.

Defense Secretary Austin said that Washington wants “to see Russia weakened” militarily so it can’t do things like invade its democratic neighbor in the future.

Austin also said at the news conference that “the world has been inspired” by Ukraine during the war, and that America would continue its support.

“What you’ve done in repelling the Russians in the battle of Kyiv is extraordinary,” he said.

Austin said Ukraine’s military needs are changing, and Zelenskyy is now focused on more tanks, artillery and other munitions.
 
“The nature of the fight has evolved, because the terrain they’re now focused on is a different type of terrain, so they need long-range fires,” Austin said.
 
Asked about what the U.S. sees as success, Austin said that “we want to see Ukraine remain a sovereign country, a democratic country able to protect its sovereign territory. We want to see Russia weakened to the point where it can’t do things like invade Ukraine.”

Austin said Zelenskyy’s response to the aid was deep appreciation for what was being given, but “he has the mindset that they want to win and we have the mindset that we want to help them win.” The American defense chief said victory, from the U.S. perspective, would include seeing Russia “weakened” militarily.

In video of the meeting released later by the Zelenskyy’s office, Blinken praises the Ukrainian leader for the “extraordinary courage and leadership and success that you’ve had in pushing back this horrific Russian aggression.”

“We got used to seeing you on video around the world, but it’s great, it’s good to see you in person,” Blinken says with a smile.

Zelenskyy had announced Saturday that he would meet with the U.S. officials in Kyiv on Sunday, but the Biden administration refused to confirm that and declined to discuss details of a possible visit even though planning had been underway for more than a week.

Journalists who traveled with Austin and Blinken to Poland were barred from reporting on the trip until it ended, weren’t allowed to accompany them on their overland journey into Ukraine, and were prohibited from specifying where in southeast Poland they waited for the U.S. cabinet members to return. Officials at the State Department and the Pentagon cited security concerns.

On the diplomatic front, Blinken gave Zelenskyy an early heads-up about Mr. Biden’s Monday morning announcement of his nomination of veteran diplomat Bridget Brink to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.  A career foreign service officer, Brink has served since 2019 as ambassador to Slovakia. She previously held assignments in Serbia, Cyprus, Georgia and Uzbekistan as well as with the White House National Security Council. The post requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate

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