May 22, 2022

Ukraine calls for heavy arms as top US officials visit; Easter prayers for peace

The trip by State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin would be the highest-level visit to Ukraine by US officials since Russia invaded the country

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Kyiv late on Sunday and held talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky, an aide to the Ukrainian leader said, as Russia’s invasion entered the third month.

Zelensky is expected to have asked them for more powerful weapons to repel the Russian offensive in the south and east, which he has dubbed the “Battle of the Donbas”.

The trip by Blinken and Austin, announced earlier by Zelensky, would be the highest-level visit to Ukraine by US officials since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of the country on February 24.

Washington has not confirmed that Blinken and Austin were in the Ukrainian capital, as it typically withholds information on sensitive visits in conflict zones for security reasons.
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Late on Sunday, Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Zelensky, said in a social media video that Blinken and Austin had arrived in Kyiv and were holding talks with the Ukrainian president.

“We are inspired by the resilience of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine in the face of President Putin’s brutal war of aggression,” Blinken said earlier on Twitter.

Zelensky on Twitter thanked US President Joe Biden and the United States for leadership in supporting Ukraine.

Earlier on Sunday, Zelensky said his nation would overcome “dark times,” in an emotional address at Kyiv’s 1,000-year-old Saint Sophia Cathedral to mark Orthodox Easter as fighting in the east overshadowed the religious celebrations. read more