Zelenskyy meets top-level U.S. delegation

The meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin was confirmed by presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych in an interview on Ukrainian TV

April 25, 2022 04:29 am | Updated 08:24 am IST - KYIV

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinsky answers questions at a press conference on April 23, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinsky answers questions at a press conference on April 23, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. | Photo Credit: JOHN MOORE

The U.S. Secretaries of State and Defence met Sunday night with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the highest-level visit to the war-torn country’s capital by an American delegation since the start of Russia's invasion.

The meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin was confirmed by presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych in an interview on Ukrainian TV.

It came as Ukraine pressed the West for more powerful weapons against Russia's campaign in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where Moscow's forces sought to dislodge the last Ukrainian troops in the battered port of Mariupol.

“Yes, they’re meeting with the President. Let’s hope something will be decided on further help,” Mr Arestovych said in an interview on Ukrainian TV.

Before the session, Mr Zelenskyy said he was looking for the Americans to produce results, both in arms and security guarantees.

"You can’t come to us empty-handed today, and we are expecting not just presents or some kind of cakes, we are expecting specific things and specific weapons,'' he said.

Mr Zelenskyy’s last face-to-face meeting with a top U.S. official was Feb. 19 in Munich with Vice President Kamala Harris, five days before Russia’s invasion. While the West has funneled military equipment to Ukraine, Mr Zelenskyy has stressed repeatedly that his country needs more heavy weapons, including long-range air defence systems and warplanes.

In an apparent boost for Ukraine, polling agencies said French President Emmanuel Macron would win re-election over far right candidate Marine Le Pen. The result was hailed by France’s allies in the European Union as a reassuring sign of stability and continued support for Ukraine. France has played a leading role in international efforts to punish Russia with sanctions and is supplying weapons systems to Ukraine.

Mr Zelenskyy's meeting with U.S. officials took place as Ukrainians and Russians observed Orthodox Easter, when the faithful celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Speaking from Kyiv's ancient St. Sophia Cathedral, Mr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, highlighted its significance to a nation wracked by nearly two months of war.

“The great holiday today gives us great hope and unwavering faith that light will overcome darkness, good will overcome evil, life will overcome death, and therefore Ukraine will surely win!” he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Guterres is scheduled to travel to Turkey on Monday and then Moscow and Kyiv. Mr Zelenskyy it was a mistake for Guterres to visit Russia before Ukraine.

“Why? To hand over signals from Russia? What should we look for?” Mr Zelenskyy said Saturday. “There are no corpses scattered on the Kutuzovsky Prospect,” he said, referring to one of Moscow’s main avenues.

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