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MS KVIEN:  Well, it’s my great pleasure and honor to welcome Secretary Blinken to Embassy Kyiv-West here in Rzeszow, Poland.  What you have in front of you, Mr. Secretary, is about 50 folks who have been working night and day since we got here to help Ukrainians in need, to help American citizens in need to get out of Ukraine, to help bring assistance into Ukraine, and to help continue our work with the Ukrainian Government to make sure that we can do whatever we can to help them in their time of need.  So with that, I’ll just hand it over to you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  Kristina, thank you very much.  And look, I really want to have a chance to hear from as many of you as possible, answer as many questions as I can in the time we have, and predictably, we’re running behind.  So I don’t want to talk at the beginning too much, except to say this:  I know that for virtually each and every one of you, this is not only professional – this is personal.  So many of you have deep ties, deep connections, deep feelings for Ukraine, for its people, for your friends that you’ve made, the professional relationships you’ve developed.

And I know how powerful that is, both as a driver but also, it’s a challenge, because I know what you’ve been through in the last weeks – shutting down in Kyiv, moving to Lviv, moving out of Lviv, back to Lviv, and out – and all the while determined to do everything that you can for our friends and partners in Ukraine.  And so again, I know this is this is deeply personal as well as professional.  And the professional part of the could not be more important, because you all know better than anyone what’s at stake in this effort.

What’s at stake is, of course, first and foremost, the lives, the wellbeing, the future of so many Ukrainians.  And for all the numbers we throw around, each and every one of those numbers has a real person behind it.  And that’s something I know you know better than anyone because you know the people, but it’s also big because the very principles that are at the heart of the international system, as challenged as it is, that are really important to try and keep peace and security – that we established after two world wars to try to make sure it never happened again – those principles are being assaulted by Vladimir Putin, along with the Ukrainian people.

And so our determination to make sure this doesn’t go with impunity is about Ukraine, and honestly, it’s about the whole world.  The part you’re playing in this town is vitally important, because you’re so much a part of the connectivity that we have with Ukraine and with Ukrainians, even from Embassy West here.  And I’m so grateful to all of you for doing this, not just doing it but, as Kristina said – and Kristina, thank you for your extraordinary leadership in this time – doing it with such determination, such passion, and such heart.

But with that, let me stop and let our friends from the press maybe get a espresso somewhere, and —

STAFF:  All right, thank you.

U.S. Department of State

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