Watch: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken plays electric guitar at a bar in Ukraine

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
3 min read

Secretary of State Antony Blinken followed up a pledge to support Ukraine in its war against Russia by playing Rockin’ in the Free World in a basement bar just off Kyiv’s main strip.

Dressed in a black shirt and faded jeans with electric guitar around his neck, the top US diplomat launched into Neil Young’s anthem, backed up by a local jazz-punk band after a short speech expressing his empathy with Ukrainians facing a new Russian onslaught in the northeast of the country.

For the latest updates on the Russia-Ukraine war, visit our dedicated page.

“I know this is a really, really difficult time,” Blinken told the crowd of Ukrainians and Americans who descended into BarmanDictat, or the barman’s dictatorship, after being tipped off about the 8:30 p.m. gig on Tuesday. “Your soldiers, your citizens in the northeast in Kharkiv are suffering tremendously.”

For the secretary of state, the one-song gig capped a full day of meetings including with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and a speech to students with a message that Ukraine is not alone.

The two-day visit to Kyiv is the first by a senior US administration official since Congress approved a $61 billion military aid package after months of delay, which left Ukrainian troops outgunned and stretched on the battlefield.

Blinken’s performance triggered mixed feelings in Kyiv as some Ukrainians including former Economy Minister Tymofiy Mylovanov expressed a preference for action in delivering more weapons over hollow words of support.

Zelenskyy on Tuesday pleaded with the secretary of state for the US to send two Patriot air-defense batteries to provide air cover for Kharkiv as it suffers from months of relentless bombardment and as Russia opened a new front north of Ukraine’s second largest city.

The Biden administration is working to send an additional Patriot battery, people familiar with the matter said.

The troops defending Kharkiv region “need to know, you need to know, the United States is with you so much, the world is with you,” Blinken told the crowd in the bar in downtown Kyiv. “And they are fighting, not just for a free Ukraine but for the free world and the free world is with you too.”

Read more:

Russian forces take control of three settlements in Ukraine, defense ministry says

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy cancels visit to Spain and Portugal

Zelenskyy lauds US aid package, asks Blinken for air defenses

Top Content Trending