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Zelensky says Blinken and Austin will visit Ukraine on Sunday

By Mohammed Tawfeeq, Jonny Hallam and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will visit Kyiv on Sunday.

“I don’t think this is a secret that people from the US are coming to us tomorrow, State Secretary Mr. Blinken and the Defense Secretary (Lloyd Austin) who are coming to us,” Zelensky said at a press conference held in an underground subway station in the Ukrainian capital.

Zelensky also said, “We will be expecting, when the security will allow, the President of the United States to come and to talk to us.”

Zelensky told CNN’s Jake Tapper last week that he would like President Joe Biden to visit Ukraine.

“I think he will,” Zelensky said, adding that it was Biden’s decision and would depend on the security situation.

Biden, who has previously suggested he wants to go to Ukraine, said earlier this month that he was working with his team to determine whether he should dispatch a senior member of his administration to the country.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated Monday during a news conference that there are no plans in place for Biden to travel to Ukraine. “That has not changed — what our focus continues to be on is providing Ukraine, the Ukrainian government, Ukrainian leaders — a historic amount of security assistance,” Psaki told CNN.

Psaki said that if an administration official were to visit Ukraine, the White House would not publicly disclose that information ahead of the time, citing security concerns.

The White House and State Department declined to comment Saturday on Blinken and Austin’s potential trip to Ukraine.

CNN has reached out to the US Department of Defense for comment.

Biden announced Thursday that the US will send an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine as the Russian invasion soon enters its third month in what US officials warn could be a potentially bloody new phase.

The new shipments include heavy artillery and 144,000 rounds of ammunition.

The US sent a similarly sized military aid package earlier this month that included Mi-17 helicopters, Howitzer cannons, Switchblade drones and protective equipment.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Kylie Atwood and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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