US State Department confirms Blinken to visit Ukraine on Jan. 19

18 January 2022, 09:12 PM

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Kyiv and Berlin from Jan. 18-20 as part of wide ranging diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions caused by Russia’s military buildup and continued aggression against Ukraine, Ned Price, the spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, said in a press statement on Jan. 18.

In the statement, Price noted that Blinken will begin his trip in Kyiv, Ukraine, where he will meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Jan. 19, “to reinforce the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The secretary will also meet with the employees and families of the U.S. Embassy to communicate the State Department’s efforts to plan for contingencies, should Russia choose to escalate further, reads the statement.

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On Jan. 20, Blinken will travel to Berlin, Germany “to discuss recent diplomatic engagements with Russia and joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine, including allies’ and partners’ readiness to impose massive consequences and severe economic costs on Russia.”

According to Price, the secretary will meet with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, followed by a meeting with the Transatlantic Quad, a group of representatives from the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, and France.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry in turn wrote in an announcement on Facebook that Blinken would pay a visit to Kyiv at the invitation of Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

“The visit will be a continuation of close coordination between Ukraine and the United States in order to deter Russia from further aggression,” the report says.

The ministry stressed that Kuleba and Blinken will hold talks on “further implementation of a comprehensive containment package for Russia, practical support for Ukraine by the United States, and active diplomatic efforts to resolve the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict.”

The officials will also discuss strategic partnerships between Ukraine and the United States in security, trade, investment, and more.

On Jan. 18, the CNN news channel revealed that U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns had already visited Ukraine last week, though that visit was not publicly announced.

Since late October, Russia has been massing troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border.

As of early December, about 100,000 Russian soldiers were deployed near the Russian-Ukrainian border and in the temporarily occupied territories in the Donbas, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in Ukraine’s parliament on Dec. 3.

International media have speculated that Russia may invade Ukraine in early 2022, in an operation that could involve up to 175,000 Russian soldiers.

Both United States and European officials have expressed concern over the situation. U.S. President Joe Biden in December declared that the White House was working out “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do.”

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