U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will travel to Kyiv on Sunday and hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over his request for more powerful weapons needed to repel Russia's invasion, the Ukrainian leader said on Saturday.
The visit will be the highest-level visit by U.S. officials to the country since the start of the war in February.
"Tomorrow we will discuss this exact list of weapons that are essential for us and the pace of deliveries," Zelenskyy told a dramatic Saturday evening news conference in an underground metro station.
- 'Who Will Come Next?': Zelenskyy Says Russian Invasion of Ukraine Just the Beginning
- Russia to Deploy Sarmat Missiles by Autumn in 'Historic' Nuclear Upgrade
- Ukraine Says Russia Trying to Storm Mariupol's Last Stronghold, Striking Odesa
Zelenskyy also said that Ukraine wants the United States to agree to be one of its security guarantors to protect it from future threats, just as Turkey's foreign minister reported that progress was being made towards a joint declaration, including security guarantees, between the two sides.
As the war enters its third month, there have been no signs that Russia's invasion will be repelled anytime soon unless a major breakthrough is reached through diplomatic back channels.
But Zelenskyy insisted that heavier arms from the West could change that. "We would like to have… powerful heavy weapons. As soon as we have [more weapons], as soon as there are enough of them, believe me, we will immediately retake this or that territory, which is temporarily occupied."
The Ukrainian president said he expected concrete results, including an agreement to provide more weapons. He also said he expected the United States to speak with Germany about providing Ukraine with weapons, which has garnered criticism from NATO allies and from some of its own political leaders for what they say is a fickle commitment to arming the Ukrainians.
Zelenskyy's comments came as Russia resumed its assault on defenders making a last stand in a giant steel works plant in Mariupol, days after Moscow declared victory in the key southern port city and said its forces did not need to take the plant.
Capturing the city is seen as vital to Russia's attempts to link the eastern Donbas region with Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula Moscow seized in 2014.