Zelensky reveals details of top-level US visit
The Ukrainian president says he presented a plan to intensify sanctions on Russia
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he presented a plan to impose more sanctions on Russia and discussed extra military aid with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Kiev on Sunday.
Zelensky outlined that the talks lasted for more than three hours and described them as “reassuring and, what’s also important, efficient.”
The president said the sides agreed on “further steps to strengthen the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” and discussed sanctions on Russia.
“We must block all of Russia’s capabilities to bypass sanctions. We provided our partners with a plan to increase sanctions against the Russian Federation,” Zelensky said. He added that the proposal was devised by a group led by Andrey Yermak, the head of Zelensky’s office, and former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.
Zelensky also said that international security guarantees for Ukraine were discussed. “I’m confident that the US can become the leader among the states that will be future guarantors of Ukraine's security,” he said.
Blinken and Austin told reporters that they pledged additional military aid to Ukraine and continued diplomatic support. On Monday, President Joe Biden named Bridget Brink, who currently serves as the US ambassador to Slovakia, the next ambassador to Ukraine. There has not been a confirmed US ambassador to Ukraine since 2019.
The State Department said diplomats will return to the city of Lviv in western Ukraine this week before moving back to Kiev “as soon as possible.”
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.