The visit, first revealed by Ukrainian officials, was all the more symbolic as it took place on the day of the Orthodox Easter, celebrated in pain and reverence in the war-torn country.
For security reasons, the visit was shrouded in high confidentiality, only confirmed by Washington after Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken left Ukrainian territory. The secret had, however, been revealed by President Zelensky himself on Saturday.
During their discussions, the two officials announced the gradual return of an additional military aid presence, direct and indirect, of more than 700 million dollars.
Of this sum, about 300 million dollars will allow the Ukrainians to acquire on the market the armaments which they need, indicated the American officials. The rest will go to Ukraine’s regional allies who have provided aid and need to replenish their stockpiles of weapons.
A new American ambassador
Antony Blinken also indicated that US President Joe Biden will appoint a new US Ambassador to Ukraine in the coming days. It will be Bridget Brink, current ambassador to Slovakia.
The diplomatic post in Ukraine had been headed since 2019 by charges d’affaires. The return of an American diplomatic presence in the country will be very gradual, the United States being much more cautious than several European countries which have already reopened their embassies in kyiv.
Since the outbreak of hostilities, we have had a team in Poland doing this job. Starting this week, members of this team will make same-day trips within Ukraine.a senior State Department official told reporters waiting for the two ministers on the Polish side of the border.
From there, they will ramp up, to other parts of the country, and ultimately reactivate our presence in kyiv.he added.
Joe Biden had already announced last Thursday a new tranche of 800 million dollars in the form of deliveries to Ukraine of heavy weapons in particular, which are demanded by the Ukrainian president to face the Russian offensive in the east of the country. .
In total, according to Washington, the United States has granted more than $4 billion in military aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the Democratic president’s mandate.
Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken are not the first foreign officials to visit kyiv since the withdrawal of Russian troops from the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital. They were preceded by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and several European officials, including European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen.