Senior US officials visited Kyiv for the first time since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began in February and said they had a new mission: a "weakened" Russian army unable to attack its neighbors.

Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin make secrecy-shrouded visit to Kyiv.

En route to Poland on Monday, the day after a visit to Kyiv, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters that "we want to see Ukraine remain a sovereign country, a democratic country capable of protecting its sovereign territory, we want to see Russia weakened to the point where it can't do things like invade Ukraine."

US Secretaries of State Antony Blinken and Austin pledged more military aid to Ukraine and the return of US diplomats to kyiv this week during a shrouded in secrecy visit to mark Orthodox Easter, a holy day in Ukraine.

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As the Russian invasion enters its third month, Western allies have rushed to supply heavy weapons, with the US, France and Canada sending in artillery, and the UK considering a deal with Warsaw to send tanks. The war launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24 becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as NATO strengthens its presence on the eastern flank and formerly non-aligned countries such as Sweden and Finland consider joining the military alliance .

The high-level shutdown of US officials in Kyiv comes after a wave of Western leaders visited the country, including European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, followed soon after by the British Prime Minister. Minister Boris. Johnson. The Polish, Czech and Slovenian prime ministers were the first to address Ukraine after the invasion began. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, also paid a visit last Wednesday.

During a reading of the meeting, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy "personally" "thanked" United States President Joe Biden and praised the American pledge. “We share the same understanding with the United States: when democracy wins in one country, it wins around the world. When freedom is defended in one country, it is defended worldwide,” Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram on Monday.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed that US diplomats would return to Ukraine this week, and the US announced the appointment of a new ambassador, Bridget Brink, who is currently US Ambassador to Ukraine. Slovakia.

After Ukraine and Poland, Austin will travel to Germany on Tuesday for a meeting of Allied Defense Ministers to discuss kyiv's long-term security needs.