U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv on Thursday, May 6, to demonstrate his country's unwavering support for Ukraine amid tensions with Russia.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed Blinken to Kyiv and noted that Ukraine and the United States enjoy good relations, the presidential press service reported.
Zelensky stressed that this visit is an important signal for Europe and the Russian Federation, as it takes place at a time when Russia's military presence near Ukraine's borders has increased and there is a high probability of escalation of the conflict in Donbas.
"It is important that today, thanks to the support of the United States, joint work with Ukraine and the European Union, pressure has been exerted and the probable escalation on the part of the Russian Federation has been stopped," the President of Ukraine said.
According to him, the withdrawal of part of weapons has relieved tensions, but the threat remains. In fact, a small part of troops has been withdrawn: as of today, it is only 3.5 thousand servicemen and 210 units of equipment and only from Crimea. The forces deployed along the borders allow the Russian side to launch a military operation against Ukraine at any time.
The President also invited Antony Blinken to discuss possible joint steps to de-occupy the Crimean peninsula.
"We would like you to help us with this because it will be difficult for us alone to counter the threat in the Black Sea-Azov region. We want the United States to be one of the founders and leaders of the Crimean platform and we invite the American side to participate in its first summit," he stressed.
Zelensky also called on NATO countries to enhance their military presence in the region so that joint allied action at sea in response is possible. He asked for the assistance of the United States in initiating the discussions for the prospect of Ukraine's receiving of NATO Membership Action Plan during the NATO summit on June 14.
For his part, Antony Blinken thanked the Head of State for the warm welcome and conveyed sincere greetings from US President Joe Biden, who greatly appreciates the conversation that took place between the two leaders a few weeks ago.
"I came to Ukraine to personally confirm to you our strong support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine, our partnership. For many years, the United States has stood by Ukraine against aggression, supporting the strengthening of democracy, institution building, the fight against corruption and the promotion of reforms," said the Secretary of State.
The interlocutors also discussed preparations for the U.S. President's visit to Ukraine.