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Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Congress on April 28. Photo: Melina Mara/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Kyiv on May 5-6 to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to "reaffirm unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression," the State Department announced Friday.

Why it matters: Blinken will be the most senior-ranking U.S. official to visit Ukraine during the Biden administration. The trip comes in the aftermath of massive Russia military exercises near the Ukrainian border, and could precede a summit this summer between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Context: Russia said it was partially ending its large military build up near Ukraine's eastern border last week and withdrew troops, though it will leave armored vehicles there until the fall, according to the New York Times.

  • Ukrainian troops are still battling Russian-backed separatist groups in eastern Ukraine, and Russian troops continue to illegally occupy Crimea.
  • Tensions between the U.S. and Russia are running high, with both countries expelling diplomats and imposing sanctions in recent weeks after the U.S. accused Russia of an array of destabilizing cyber activities.

What they're saying: Secretary Blinken will "encourage continued progress on Ukraine’s institutional reform agenda, particularly anti-corruption action, which is key to securing Ukraine’s democratic institutions, economic prosperity, and Euro-Atlantic future," the State Department said.

The big picture: Blinken's Ukrainian trip will come after he attends the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting in London on May 3-5. President Biden will meet with G7, NATO and EU allies in England and Brussels in June as part of his first overseas trip.

Go deeper ... Scoop: Leaked Ukraine memo reveals scope of Russia's aggression

Go deeper

What key senators want from a Biden-Putin summit

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Eric Baradat (AFP), Mikhail Klimentyev (TASS) via Getty Images

Senators from both parties tell Axios they generally approve the idea of a summit between President Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin but oppose any reset of relations between Washington and Moscow.

Why it matters: The Biden-Putin relationship is off to a contentious start following U.S. sanctions over Russia’s election interference and cyberattacks, Russia’s military buildup in Ukraine — and Biden’s characterization of Putin as a “killer.”

Ex-UN ambassador Samantha Power confirmed to lead USAID

Samantha Power at her confirmation hearing on March 23. Photo: Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Samantha Power, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday with a 68-26 vote to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Why it matters: Power's nomination signaled the Biden administration's plans to use foreign assistance as an instrument of soft power as the U.S. has pledged to deliver millions of vaccines and offer aid to countries battling the coronavirus pandemic.

51 mins ago - Health

Biden reaches agreements with Uber and Lyft to give free rides to vaccine sites

A coronavirus vaccination site in Miami on May 10. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Biden administration has reached agreements with ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft to offer free rides to coronavirus vaccination sites through July 4, the White House announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The free rides, starting in the next two weeks, are part of the Biden administration's push to administer at least one vaccine dose to 70% of U.S. adults by Independence Day.