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Top American Officials Visit Ukraine in Secret

The conflict in Eastern Europe has entered a new phase.

By:  |  April 26, 2022  |    651 Words
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Ukrainian and American flags (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Ukraine and Russia are still at war, and two top United States officials recently took a trip to the area. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin traveled in secret to Ukraine to see what is happening as its conflict with Russia continues.

As secretary of state, Blinken is in charge of dealing with foreign countries on behalf of the United States. Austin is second-in-command of the US military, under the president. The two high-level officials first arrived separately in Poland, before crossing the border by train into Ukraine and meeting with the country’s president. They visited the presidential place in the capital city Kyiv, but did not tour parts of the country damaged by the violence. Reporters weren’t allowed to reveal the trip had taken place until it was already over, due to safety and security reasons.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Despite all the measures to keep the visit secret, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky let the cat out of the bag when he announced the day before the visit that Blinken and Austin would be arriving. Despite the safety worries this caused, the American officials decided to stick to the plan and complete their trip.

Official Visit to Ukraine

During the visit, the two American leaders said the US would donate a further $700 million in military aid for Ukraine and its allies in the region, to help fight against Russia. They added that the US would also give more training to Ukrainian soldiers.

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Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the United States told most of its diplomatic staff to leave the country for safety reasons. Austin and Blinken said the US plans to send more staff there now, to work at the consulate in the city of Lviv. However, the main embassy in Kyiv will stay closed for now.

The two American secretaries commented that they had visited Ukraine to express support for the country:

“We had an opportunity to demonstrate directly our strong ongoing support for the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people. This was โ€ฆ an important moment to be there to have face-to-face conversations in detail,” said Blinken at the end of the visit.

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Austin added that America wants to see Russia’s military “weakened.” He added that Ukraine’s President Zelensky “has the mindset that they want to win and we have the mindset that we want to help them win.”

After the trip, Defense Secretary Austin traveled to Germany to discuss plans with US allies in Europe.

A New Phase in the War?

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, sparking war. Two months later, the conflict is still going, and no one is sure when it will end. Talks to arrange peace have failed, so far.

Ukrainian soldiers in Donbas, Ukraine, April 2022. (Photo by Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Russia’s invasion has not been as successful as predicted, though. At first, Russia attacked Ukraine from three fronts: the North, the South, and the East. However, Russian forces failed to conquer much land. They also tried to capture Kyiv, but were not successful there, either. This caused Russia to recently change its strategy.

Russian soldiers pulled back to concentrate on just capturing the southeast of Ukraine, near the Russian border. This includes port cities on the south coast, as well as the Donbas region, which has been run by pro-Russian rebels for the last few years.

This change in strategy marks a new phase in the conflict: Will Russia capture these areas, or will Ukraine successfully defend them? Either way, it appears United States officials are still firmly on Ukraine’s side in this war.

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