Blinken In Kyiv, Introduces Defense Enterprise Fund … and Sings Neil Young?

James Hydzik

16 May 2024 - 19:42

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In a two-day trip to Kyiv, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken described an initiative that will bring immediate aid from the U.S., bolster Ukraine’s defense industry, and enable purchases from 3rd part countries. He also made his musical debut in a Khreshchatyk bar.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Kyiv on May 14-15 accompanied by his fullest team yet. Along with getting a feel for the current state of Kyiv by meeting with civil society activists and university students, the secretary met with government officials and held a news conference with his counterpart, Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba.

During the news conference, Blinken explained that a $2 billion round of support had been initiated. Though the $2 billion comes from the $61 billion aid package signed into law in April 2024, there are three sources for and objectives of the funding.
Some of the funds will be channeled through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. This program has been used for financing $4.73 billion in military funding for Ukraine in the first two years since the onset of the broad-scale invasion. These funds go to purchasing equipment and services in the U.S. on behalf of the Ukrainian government, and are an example of the oft-quoted “90% of the aid to Ukraine stays in the U.S.”.

The second part goes to an initiative to build up Ukraine’s defence production industries. Blinken and Kuleba discussed this, and Kuleba also mentioned it during the news conference. The funds will go to “investing in Ukraine’s defense industrial base, helping to strengthen even more its capacity to produce what it needs for itself but also to produce for others.” The third focus is providing funds to buy military equipment from third parties.

Off-key performance, literally and metaphorically

As part of the non-official visit, Blinken paid a visit to a bar in downtown Kyiv to play guitar and sing with a local group. After a short message in which he praised the Ukrainian people for their resilience, he played rhythm guitar on the song, “Rockin’ in the Free World” by Neil Young, and sang the chorus. The choice of song and have drawn criticism, though New York Magazine ran an article titled, “Anthony Blinken Sucks At The Guitar And Should Stop Playing”.


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