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Secretary of State Blinken, Secretary of Defense Austin to visit Ukraine, Zelensky says

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke at a news conference during a US-India meeting at the State Department in Washington on April 11.MICHAEL MCCOY/Associated Press

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin would visit Kyiv on Sunday, in what would be a risky show of support for Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion.

“Tomorrow people from the U.S. are coming, I will meet the defense minister and the secretary of state, Mr. Blinken,” Zelenskiy told reporters on Saturday. “I think, we will be waiting when security will allow the president of the U.S. to come and support Ukraine’s people.”

It wasn’t clear if Zelenskiy’s disclosure was cleared with the Biden administration or if it would affect any travel plans. The White House and the State Department did not immediately comment.

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The visits, if confirmed, would be the first by top U.S. officials to Ukraine’s capital since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24. In March, Blinken briefly met with Ukraine’s foreign minister at the Ukraine-Polish border.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, European Commission President Ursula Von Der Layen and other foreign leaders have previously visited Kyiv to show support for the Ukrainian government.

Those trips raised pressure on the U.S. to schedule a visit by President Joe Biden or other senior officials. The White House has said there were no plans for Biden to visit the war-torn country.