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Secretary of State Antony Blinken honored his pledge to stand with Ukraine in its conflict with Russia by performing a rendition of “Rockin’ in the Free World” at a hidden speakeasy near Kyiv’s central thoroughfare. Dressed in a black shirt and faded jeans, Blinken picked up an electric guitar to play Neil Young’s classic hit song. He was accompanied by a local jazz-punk band and delivered a short speech expressing solidarity with Ukrainians facing another Russian offensive in the east.

In his address to the crowd at BarmanDictat, Blinken acknowledged the difficulties that Ukrainians were going through, particularly those in Kharkiv. He assured them that they were not alone and emphasized the US’s commitment to remaining by their side. The performance was the culmination of a day filled with meetings, including one with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and a speech to students highlighting American support for Ukraine.

Blinken’s visit to Kyiv marked the first time a high-ranking US official had been there since Congress approved a $61 billion military aid package aimed at bolstering Ukraine’s defense capabilities, which have been strained due to a lack of resources. While some Ukrainians viewed Blinken’s gesture positively, others, such as former Economy Minister Tymofiy Mylovanov, expressed hope for more concrete assistance in the form of weapons.

During his time in Kyiv, Zelenskiy requested two Patriot air-defense batteries to safeguard Kharkiv from ongoing attacks by Russia. Blinken reassured the crowd at the bar that the United States stood firmly with Ukraine and its troops defending the region. Efforts are underway to send an additional Patriot battery to provide much-needed air cover. The secretary of state emphasized that the battle in Ukraine was not just about freedom for the country but also for the whole world and stressed the importance of international community support.

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