Elizabeth Boyle, Staff
Header Image: Kyiv Post
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Kyiv, Ukraine to meet with Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. While in Ukraine they engaged in a three hour meeting where they discussed the turning tide of the war, Russia’s strategy, and what aid Zelenskyy needs.
After the Russian Military failed to take Kyiv, they turned their attention to the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine. The Donbas region has had Russian supporters fighting there for years, since 2014. The region is on the Russian border, so it makes it easier for Russia to fight there. They are close to supplies and reinforcements from Russia. The Donbas region changes the nature of the fighting because it is a flat and open space. Russia retreating from Kyiv is progress for Ukraine, but they now must focus on using long-range weapons, such as artillery, to fight the Russians from a greater distance. Russia’s repositioning away from Kyiv was one of the topics brought up during the meeting and Blinken said, “When it comes to Russia’s war aims, Russia is failing. Ukraine is succeeding. Russia has sought as its principle aim to totally subjugate Ukraine, to take away its sovereignty, to take away its independence. That has failed.”
Blinken and Austin demonstrated the US’s continuing support for Ukraine. They are the two highest-level Americans to visit the Ukrainian capital since the war started in February. They were cautioned of the dangers of traveling to Ukraine, but Blinken explained, “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…The strategy that we’ve put in place, massive support for Ukraine, massive pressure against Russia, solidarity with more than 30 countries engaged in these efforts are having real results.”
The next step to help Ukraine is to send military equipment that meets current needs, especially long-range weapons such as howitzers and anti-artillery radars. On Thursday, April 21st President Biden announced, “An additional $800 million in military aid will be sent to Ukraine.” This aid includes howitzers and artillery ammunition, tactical vehicles, and drones. The US has provided an estimated $3.4 billion worth of aid since February 24 at the start of the war. President Biden has also accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of genocide and war crimes in Ukraine.
The US is not the only country to help Ukraine and more continue to join. Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have all offered to give military aid to Ukraine. English Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “They need support with more artillery; that is what we will be giving them.”
The US embassy in Ukraine has remained closed since the beginning of the hostilities, but President Biden announced Bridget Brink as his nominee for Ukrainian ambassador on Monday, and this, along with SecState Blinken’s assurances on Sunday signal the embassy may be up and running in the next few weeks.
Secretary of State Blinken returned to Washington after the meeting, but Secretary of Defense Austin did not accompany him. Austin traveled to Ramstein, Germany along with 20 other representatives for a North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) meeting. In the April 26 meeting assistance to the war in Ukraine was discussed along with long-term remedies for the current conflict in Europe.