Blinken’s Guitar Performance in Kyiv Sparks Criticism in Ukraine

Wed May 15 2024
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KYIV: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s impromptu guitar performance in a Kyiv bar on Tuesday night has drawn criticism from Ukrainians, who deemed it “inappropriate” given the ongoing crisis in the country.

Blinken’s musical interlude occurred as Ukrainian troops continue to face challenges in defending their territory against Russian aggression.

While Blinken intended to convey a message of solidarity and support for Ukraine during his surprise visit to Kyiv, his decision to join Ukrainian musicians on stage at Barman Dictat and play Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” was met with disapproval from some quarters. Svitlana Matviyenko, head of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives NGO, described Blinken’s evening as “inappropriate,” emphasizing the severity of the situation faced by Ukrainian soldiers and citizens.

Blinken’s visit to Kyiv comes after Washington’s approval of a $61 billion aid package for Ukraine, aimed at bolstering the country’s defense capabilities. In a speech earlier on Tuesday, Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to supporting Ukraine until its security was “guaranteed.”

Despite Blinken’s intentions to convey solidarity, Ukrainian lawmaker Bogdan Yaremenko criticized the timing of the performance, particularly in light of delays in US aid that have impacted Ukraine’s ability to defend itself. Yaremenko highlighted the disconnect between Blinken’s message and the realities faced by Ukraine on the ground.

Images of Blinken’s guitar performance circulated on social media, sparking an angry backlash from some Ukrainians who viewed it as tone-deaf to the gravity of the situation. Valeriy Chaly, Ukraine’s former ambassador to the United States, expressed his disagreement with Blinken’s performance, stating that the message conveyed was “wrong.”

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