Updated Apr 23, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Zelensky says he'll meet Blinken, Austin in Kyiv on Sunday

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking during a press conference in Kyiv on April 20.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking during a press conference in Kyiv on April 20. Photo: Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Image

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a press conference Saturday he will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Kyiv on Sunday.

Why it matters: Blinken and Austin will be the highest-ranking U.S. officials to visit Ukraine since the start of Russia's unprovoked invasion.

  • The State Department and the Pentagon both declined to comment on Axios' requests to confirm the visit.
  • The unconfirmed meeting would come just days after the Biden administration unveiled another $800 million in military aid for Ukraine, including heavy artillery. The announcement brought the total U.S. military aid to the country since Russia's invasion to around $3.4 billion.
  • United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will be visiting with Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin separately next week, the UN announced Friday.

What they're saying: Zelensky said Saturday he didn’t think it was a “big secret” that Blinken and Austin “are coming to us tomorrow" and that the three will discuss a list of weapons Ukraine's military needs to defend against the Russian offensive in the Donbas region of the country.

  • He said he is awaiting a time when Kyiv is secure enough to allow President Biden to visit Ukraine's capital.
  • Zelensky said Guterres should visit Ukrainian cities where Russian troops committed war crimes before his meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Putin.

The big picture: High ranking officials, including U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, from several countries have been traveling to Kyiv and meeting Ukrainian officials since Russia's military withdrawal from northern Ukraine in early April.

  • Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Representative Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) on April 14 became the first American political officials to travel to the country since the invasion.
  • Last week, Zelensky told CNN that he believes Biden will visit sometime in the future.

Go deeper: New tanks and artillery bolster Ukraine’s hopes of defeating Russia

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a response from the State Department.

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