Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken Visit Kiev Bringing Gifts and Bad News for Vladimir Putin

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Sunday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev. This was the first senior-level delegation from the US to visit Ukraine since Putin’s War started on February 24.


The meeting lacked the flair we’ve seen with Boris Johnson strolling with Zelensky across a Kiev plaza (Boris Johnson Pays Surprise Visit to Kiev and Volodymyr Zelensky as the World Wonders Where Is Joe Biden) or the trip by the presidents of Poland and the Baltic States (Four EU and NATO Presidents Visit Kiev to Discuss Security, Weapons, and War Crimes) to the scene of Russian atrocities in Bucha (Russian Torture Chamber Discovered in Liberated Ukraine Town as the Russian Army Continues to Do What It Is Good at Doing). Whatever it lacked in panache, it made up in substance.

The U.S. will return an embassy presence to Ukraine and increase military support for the country, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a meeting in Kyiv, as Russia’s war shifts gears in eastern and southern Ukraine.

“Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding,” Mr. Blinken said, asserting that Ukraine will persist as a sovereign country despite Russia’s attempts to overrun it. The two secretaries, who spoke to reporters early Monday in Poland after their return by train from a three-hour meeting with officials in Kyiv, described a Ukrainian capital that appeared to be headed back to a more normal state, in contrast to the increased fighting the country is seeing in the Donbas region.

“We believe that they can win if they have the right equipment, the right support,” Mr. Austin said, adding of Mr. Zelensky: “While he’s grateful for all the things we’re doing, he’s also focused on what he thinks he’ll need next in order to be successful.” Besides artillery, Ukraine has expressed an interest in getting more tanks, he said.

After pulling out earlier this year, U.S. diplomats will return to Ukraine this week, initially with day trips to the western city of Lviv with the goal of returning to a functioning embassy in Kyiv in the near future, a senior State Department official said. On Monday, President Biden is expected to nominate Bridget Brink, the current U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, as the next ambassador to Ukraine, the official said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. will provide Ukraine with $322 million in foreign military assistance to allow Kyiv to buy needed weapons, part of a total package of $713 million in U.S. military assistance for more than a dozen countries in the region, U.S. officials said. The new funding comes after two previous military-aid packages of $800 million each for Ukraine that included heavy artillery, armored personnel carriers and helicopters.


The new ambassador is a career foreign service officer appointed by President Trump to be ambassador to Slovakia. This indicates the White House is trying to make support for Ukraine a bipartisan and don’t want a confirmation fight. Ambassador Brink was confirmed on a voice vote. The arrival of Austin and Blinken coincided with the delivery of the first tranche of artillery: 18 M-777 towed 155mm howitzers and 40,000 rounds (the barrel life of an M-777 is 2,650 rounds). They also brought a guarantee of $165 million to purchase ammunition for Russian weapons and an announcement that materiel pledged by the US was now arriving in Ukraine within 48 hours.

Austin cut to the chase other than financial and material aid, “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree it cannot do the kind things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” This reiterates statements previously made by the DOD spokesman John Kirby and other NATO figures (see NATO Strategy Shifts From Ukraine Must Be Defended to Russia Must Lose).

On the whole, I think the visit set the right tone. It was a meeting between allies to discuss business, not combat zone terrorism. It also spelled out what the US wants to get out of our support for Ukraine; we want Russia to lose to deter Putin’s imperial ambitions in a highly visible and painful way.


However, this is Joey SotfServe’s White House, so no attempt at coherence can overcome the radical incompetence that surrounds our Dementia Popsicle. This is a quintessentially “Leeeeeeroy Jenkins” moment by Joe Biden.

This is scary no matter what. Either Biden talked to Austin and Blinken, and he’s forgotten about it, or his foreign and defense policy chiefs had a major meeting about the most significant defense and foreign policy issue facing the Biden White House, and he hasn’t bothered to talk to them.


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