The American Secretary of State, Antony Blink, was in Kiev yesterday, where he met with the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, and with the Foreign Minister, Dmitri Kuleba. “I am here for a simple reason, to strongly reaffirm, on behalf of President Biden, our commitment in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence,” Blinken said.
And it is that the question of the security of Ukraine in the face of the threat posed by Russia was at the center of the talks. Zelenski He said that, despite the fact that the Russian troops deployed along the border of his country announced their withdrawal on April 22, “Ukraine remains in danger (…) there are still about tens of thousands of Russian soldiers.” In his words, “only 3,500 soldiers and officers withdrew.” Zelenski asked Blinken that Washington reinforce military aid to his country.
The Secretary of State pointed out that “we see a unprecedented concentration of Russian troops since 2014 on the border with Ukraine and we are on your side, Mr. President, we support you, as do our allies and partners. He promised that the United States “will counter the destabilizing actions of Russia.” Kuleba, for his part, wanted to underline that the US “is Ukraine’s number one ally in security and defense.”
Following his interview with Blinken, Zelenski announced to the press that he has invited Joe Biden to visit Ukraine and to participate in the first meeting of the so-called Crimean Platform, on August 23, 2021. It is a forum promoted by the Ukrainian authorities with the aim of gaining sufficient international support to get Russia to return to Ukraine the Crimean peninsula. “We believe that this will be a crucial year for relations between Ukraine and the United States,” he stressed.
The Crimean Platform was created on March 11, the date when the seventh anniversary of the unilateral proclamation of independence of this territory by its Parliament, and aims to coordinate all international action to achieve that the peninsula once again be part of Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian president, the first meeting of the Crimea summit will be attended by the United States, Poland, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Turkey and Azerbaijan. The Secretary General of the Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, has also been invited.
In the opinion of the Ukrainian deputy, Oleksiy Goncharenko, “the very fact that Antony Blinken has traveled to Ukraine is already a signal, mainly for Putin, that the United States will not abandon Ukraine as its ally and will support both its territorial integrity and its independence”. Blinken also had a meeting with him yesterday. Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epifanio, whom Moscow accuses of oppressing the Russian Orthodox Church within Ukraine.
Leonid Pásechnik, the separatist leader of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic, attacked Blinken yesterday, claiming that his visit to Kiev “aims to escalate the conflict” in eastern Ukraine. In his opinion, “the United States is interested in escalating the confrontation in Donbass.” Quoted by Russian agencies, Pásechnik predicted that “this will end with the outbreak of a military conflict”, something that has already been happening with greater or lesser intensity since April 2014.
Blinken arrived in Kiev from London, where he participated in the G7 meeting. There he had a meeting alone with his counterpart from the European Union, Josep Borrell, to talk about Russia, China and Iran. The two officials referred to the Russian deployment along the Ukrainian border, the crisis of expulsions of diplomats and the situation of the Russian opposition leader, Alexéi Navalni, who is currently serving a two-year, five-month prison sentence and whose health condition remains worrying.