Blinken in Kyiv tries to rally sagging Ukrainian spirits as Russia makes new military gains

May 15, 2024

Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sought Tuesday to rally the spirits of glum Ukrainians facing a fierce new Russian offensive, assuring them during a visit to Kyiv that they are not alone and that billions of dollars in American military aid on its way after months of political delays will make a “real difference” on the battlefield.

After a day of meetings with senior officials, civil society figures and university students when he exhorted them against being discouraged, Blinken took to the stage at a bar in Ukraine’s capital to play rhythm guitar and sing with a local band on Neil Young’s 1989 hit “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

The performance, and a series of sunny comments from Blinken about Ukraine’s battlefield prospects, was a startling juxtaposition to what analysts have called one of the most dangerous moments for Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. Russian forces have taken swaths of territory along Ukraine’s northeast border, and thousands of civilians in the Kharkiv region have fled the increasingly intense attacks.

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