A High-Level Visit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is telling the world that US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit his embattled country today, April 24, 2022. It would be the first high-level visit by a Biden administration office since the beginning of the war.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (left) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the South Court Auditorium of the White House. Image Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The trip underlines the administration’s increasing involvement with the Ukraine war in recent weeks. President Biden has committed billions of dollars of weapons and humanitarian aid since the Russians invaded their country on February 24th.

The Pentagon has also announced that training exercises are upcoming for groups of Ukrainian servicemembers on the US-made weapons systems we will be providing them. Such training is currently underway in Great Britain on equipment they are providing to help with the fight.

Specific Needs, Specific Requests

As his nation falls under constant attack by numerically superior Russian forces, President Zelensky has clear-cut expectations from the American delegation. From a subway station in Kyiv, he said:

 “They should not come here with empty hands. We are expecting specific things and specific weapons.”

“Come to us, we’ll be happy to see you. But please bring us the assistance, which we have discussed,” the Ukrainian president added. “That’s why the visit from the U.S. is very important.”

President Biden announced this week that another $800 million in security assistance would be provided to Ukraine. The package includes another 72 Howitzers, tactical vehicles to tow the Howitzers, various field equipment and spare parts, and over 120 “Phoenix Ghost” drones.

Video still of a drone taken during the Air Warfare Symposium. Phoenix Drones are classified, and there are no images of them available of them for public distribution. Image Credit: US Air Force/Kevin McNulty

A senior defense official says the Phoenix drone has similar capabilities to that of a Switchblade drone – which is easily carried and launched by an individual soldier and detonates after it crashes into its target – but the complete scope of its capabilities remains classified.

In his speech Saturday, Mr. Zelensky was quick to remind the world that Putin has wider-reaching ambitions than Ukraine.

He said:

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine was intended only as a beginning, then they want to capture other countries.” 

The War Rages On

Over the weekend, heavy bombardment continued in the east of Ukraine as international appeals to the Russians to lay down their arms over the Orthodox Easter weekend apparently fell on deaf ears.

On Saturday, Russian missiles struck the strategic southern port city of Odesa, which was largely spared in the earlier days of the war. At least eight people were killed, including a three-month-old girl.

President Zelensky’s Chief of Staff, Andriy Yermak, wrote in a Telegram message yesterday that the number of dead and wounded was expected to rise. He later told reporters that the Russians were “dirty scumbags” for carrying out such an attack.

“The child was one month old when the war started,” he said. “What is even happening here?”

What is happening is that the Russians seem to be intent on expanding their influence in the Black Sea region of Ukraine, slowly making their way to Moldova.

SOFREP pledges to keep you informed on all of the latest developments in this ongoing Russian war against a sovereign nation.