Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced he would meet Sunday in his nation’s capital with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Zelenskyy in a news conference gave few details about the logistics of his upcoming encounter with Blinken and Austin but said he expected results — “not just presents or some kind of cakes, we are expecting specific things and specific weapons.”
It would be the first high-level U.S. trip to Kyiv since before the war began on Feb. 24. While visiting Poland in March, Blinken stepped briefly onto Ukrainian soil to meet with the country’s foreign minister. Zelenskyy’s last face-to-face meeting with a U.S. leader was Feb. 19 in Munich with Vice President Kamala Harris.
"I don't think this is a secret that people from the US are coming to us tomorrow, State Secretary Mr. Blinken and the Defense Secretary (Lloyd Austin) who are coming to us," Zelensky said at a press conference held in an underground subway station in the Ukrainian capital.
Zelensky also said, "We will be expecting, when the security will allow, the President of the United States to come and to talk to us."
President Biden, who has previously suggested he wants to go to Ukraine, said earlier this month that he was working with his team to determine whether he should dispatch a senior member of his administration to the country.
Biden has not yet traveled to Ukraine, though Zelensky and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba have previously pushed for him to do so.
Zelensky’s remarks come after Biden on Thursday announced that the U.S. will send Ukraine another $800 million in military aid.
That is separate from a different package the Treasury Department announced the same day in which it will be sending $500 million to Ukraine to help fund government pensions and salaries and other means of keeping the country’s government afloat.
Zelensky has for weeks urged Western allies to send Ukraine more weapons to counter the Russian invasion.
The Ukrainian leader on Saturday also called again for a meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in an effort to “put an end to the war.”
“I think that whoever started this war will be able to end it,” he told a news conference at a metro station in the heart of the Ukrainian capital, adding that he was “not afraid to meet” Putin if it would lead to a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine.
“From the beginning, I have insisted on talks with the Russian president,” he said. “It’s not that I want [to meet him], it’s that I have to meet him so as to settle this conflict by diplomatic means.”
“We have confidence in our partners, but we have no confidence in Russia,” he added.
Zelensky denounced plans by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to visit Moscow on Tuesday, before Kyiv.
“It is simply wrong to go first to Russia and then to Ukraine,” he said. “There is no justice and no logic in this order.”
Zelensky also repeated his warning that they would break off talks if Russia killed the remaining Ukrainian soldiers in the besieged Black Sea port of Mariupol.
“If our men are killed in Mariupol and if these pseudo-referendums are organized in the [southern] region of Kherson, then Ukraine will withdraw from any negotiation process,” he said.