Blinken Faces Backlash For Playing Guitar In A Kyiv Bar

( – The war in Ukraine has entered its third year. Both sides refuse to negotiate and Russia is once again on the offensive. Recently, Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the war-torn country to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other officials. Part of his visit, however, drew a bit of controversy.

On Tuesday, May 14, while in the capital city of Kyiv, Blinken visited a bar. Punk band 19.99 was playing live music and the musicians called the US official up on stage. While up there, Blinken was given a guitar, which he promptly strapped on and he told the crowd that the US still stands behind the country in its conflict with Russia, and “so much of the world is with” them. He then started strumming Neil Young’s song “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Footage of the event went viral, drawing comments both in favor and opposition of his actions.

One user posted that the Secretary of State “saw firsthand that the spirit of Ukraine remains unbreakable.” Another said that his joining the band “while thousands of civilians flee Kharkiv” and the army suffers losses because of lack of US aid, then he “better be seriously going to the mat” for the country.

Others, including many Ukrainians, thought the performance and message he sent was tone deaf. One even accused him of mocking Ukrainians “while the [Russians] are destroying us, the Americans forbid us to use weapons.”

Blinken’s visit to Ukraine was a surprise, for the most part. He went to assure officials, including Zelenskyy, that the US aid isn’t far behind. Congress had held it up for months after Republicans couldn’t agree on whether or not to approve it. In the meantime, Russia has had a modicum of success in Kharkiv, seizing villages and sending thousands of civilians fleeing. There are intermittent power outages in the country as well, proving the war is far from over.

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