Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin’s Travel to Ukraine
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III visited Kyiv, Ukraine yesterday to demonstrate the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in their struggle against Russian aggression.
While in Kyiv, Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin met 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. They discussed America’s stalwart support for the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian people, including through our significant assistance to Ukraine’s security, governance, economic, and humanitarian needs. Secretary Blinken also voiced renewed support for Ukraine’s efforts to end the Russian aggression through diplomacy and dialogue, noting that our continued support will strengthen Ukraine’s hand on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.
During their meeting, Secretary Blinken shared that President Biden will nominate Bridget Brink, currently the U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia, to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. If confirmed, Ambassador Brink will lead our diplomatic mission in Ukraine with dedication and distinction. She previously served as Senior Advisor and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassies in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and Tbilisi, Georgia. Her decades of experience make her uniquely suited for this moment in Ukraine’s history.
Underscoring our intensive diplomatic engagement, Secretary Blinken also relayed that U.S. diplomats will be returning to Ukraine this week. The increased U.S. presence demonstrates our support for Ukraine and is part of the U.S. 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 U.S. citizens.
Secretary Blinken informed President Zelenskyy that the United States 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 for Ukraine and will provide support for the capabilities Ukraine needs as Russia’s forces train their focus on the Donbas; this assistance will also help Ukraine’s armed forces transition to more advanced weapons and air defense systems. This assistance will also help NATO Allies with backfilling capabilities they have donated to Ukraine from their own stockpiles. Additionally, Secretary Blinken told President Zelenskyy that on April 24 the Department notified Congress of a Foreign Military Sale of up to $165 million for non-standard ammunition for Ukraine. Since the start of Russia’s renewed invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the United States has committed roughly $3.7 billion in security assistance and has provided more than $4.3 billion since the start of the Biden Administration.
As part of our continuing assistance, Secretary Austin also informed the Government of Ukraine that the U.S. Department of Defense will expand military training for Ukrainian service members in the region on certain weapons systems being provided. He highlighted U.S. efforts to accelerate the delivery of these weapons, which are now arriving within days of announcement. And he underscored that, along with our Allies and partners, the United States will continue to coordinate the shipment of additional heavy weaponry, ammunition and spare parts from other nations. Secretary Austin also previewed for Ukrainian leaders the agenda for this week’s Defense Consultative Meeting in Germany. Convened by the United States, the Consultative Meeting will examine the operational picture on the ground and review near-term Ukrainian defense needs, while providing attendees an opportunity to examine ways in which Ukraine’s longer term national security interests can be best met.
Both Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin shared their admiration for the everyday heroism exhibited by the Ukrainian people – whether the soldier on the frontlines, those who are ministering the wounded, sick, or vulnerable or the defiant grandmothers resisting Russian aggression. They noted that the bravery of Ukrainians in defending freedom and democracy inspires us all and underscored our confidence that an even stronger Ukraine will emerge from this conflict.