While Secretary of Defense Austin was slated to be Germany this week to work through providing defense support to Ukraine, both Secretary Austin and Secretary of State Blinken traveled to Kyiv yesterday to meet with Ukrainian President Zelensky.
An Important Moment for Ukraine
Following the meeting, the secretaries discussed the trip with the press in southeastern Poland.
“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.
Blinken said that Zelensky appreciated the American people and their support and generosity towards Ukraine. “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.
Blinken shared that discussions took place around returning U.S. diplomats to Ukraine in the next week. Additionally, he said that President Biden intends to nominate Bridget Brink as the ambassador to Ukraine, moving her from Slovakia.
Pressure is Mounting for Russia
“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.
Blinken notes that as the pressure builds against Russia and countries join together in providing security assistance, the results will only continue to grow.
“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.
Support for Ukraine
Austin shared that he and Blinken have been saddened at the Ukrainian losses of so many citizens. They extended condolences – and admiration for his work, as well as his troops. Zelensky has been a model of leadership in the face of adversity. Austin also noted that the meeting with Zelensky focused on security assistance Ukraine would need to further beat back the Russian invaders.
As Austin meets with several ministers and chiefs of defense in Ramstein, Germany tomorrow, he said the focus will be on generating additional capability and capacity for the Ukrainian forces. Aid from U.S., allies, and partners is landing in-country daily.