According to reports, Tony Blinken (Secretary of State) and Lloyd Austin (Defense Secretary) are being considered for trips to the Ukrainian capital.
Politico reports that the Biden administration may send a high-ranking official to Kiev as a result of a string of Western leaders having visited Kiev over the past weeks. Although President Joe Biden has traveled to Poland with Vice President Kamala Harris, they did not visit Ukraine.
Politico reported that Tony Blinken, Secretary of State, and Lloyd Austin, Defense Secretary, are two names currently being looked at. “two US officials.” The officials said that regardless of who is chosen, the trip likely won’t be announced in advance for security reasons.
Blinken visited Kiev in January, and has toured Europe extensively since Russia launched its military offensive on Ukraine in February, in a bid to rally the US’ NATO allies against Moscow. Austin has also had two trips to Europe with NATO allies since then. Austin was joined in his latest trip to Europe in March by Blinken, when the Polish government petitioned both US officials to allow direct intervention in Ukraine.
Although the United States has sent Ukraine millions of dollars of military assistance, which includes a $800 million package of heavy arms, on Wednesday, Biden’s administration repeatedly denied that American troops could be sent to Ukraine. “no-fly zone”Over the country that is war-torn.
According to Politico, the rumored trip would only be symbolic. As Politico put it, “the US would affirm its commitment to Ukraine’s resistance against Russia’s invasion, while Ukraine would get to host a top American official in the capital.” Russian forces recently withdrew from the outskirts of Kiev, with Moscow stating that they would be redeployed to more strategically important battlefields in the country’s south and east – having successfully tied down Ukrainian forces near the capital – and Ukrainian officials framing the repositioning as a victory of sorts.
The repositioning of force is a Russian Ministry of Defense spokesperson Gen. Igor Konashenkov said. “intensify operations in priority areas and, above all, to complete the operation for the complete liberation of the Donbass.”
After Russia withdrew its troops, Kiev hosted several Western leaders including Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, and President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
Konashenkov said Wednesday, however that Kiev might be the target of an upcoming air strike by Ukrainian forces on Russian soil.
“We see the Ukrainian forces’ attempts to sabotage and conduct strikes against facilities in Russia,”He said. “If these cases continue, the Russian Armed Forces will strike decision-making centers, including those in Kiev, which the Russian army has so far refrained from doing.”
Russia attacked its neighbor in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, signed in 2014, and Moscow’’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Minsk Protocols, which were French and German-brokered by France, was designed to grant the regions that broke away special status in the Ukrainian government.
Since then, the Kremlin demanded Ukraine declare itself neutral and vow to never join NATO’s military bloc. Kiev maintains that Russia’s offensive was not provoked and denies claims that it planned to seize the two republics.
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