Antony Blinken Plays Guitar in Basement Bar and Has Lunch at Veteran-Owned Restaurant on Trip to Kyiv

Dmytro Kuleba, Table, Tableware, Picture frame, Furniture, Coat

On May 14, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken enjoyed a working lunch at Veterano Pizza in Kyiv. They ordered two pies. “As someone familiar with pizza, like most Americans, I can say it’s excellent here; I highly, highly recommend it,” Blinken remarked.

The restaurant, founded by Ukrainian army veteran Leonid Ostaltsev, employs fellow veterans and often delivers free pizza to soldiers recovering in Kyiv hospitals.

Later, Blinken wrapped up his day in the Ukrainian capital by visiting Barman Dictat, a lively basement cocktail bar. A punk-jazz band was performing when Blinken took a seat. After a few songs, the band’s frontman invited him on stage.

America’s top diplomat accepted the band’s frontman’s invitation to perform, but before he started playing, he addressed the audience:

Before he started playing, Blinken addressed the audience:

“I know this is a really, really difficult time,” Blinken said, referring to recent Russian military advances. “Ukraine’s soldiers, particularly in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, are suffering tremendously. But they need to know, you need to know, the United States is with you, so much of the world is with you.”

His visit was partly to highlight nearly $61 billion in additional military aid signed into law by President Biden in April, following delays by a small group of right-wing House Republicans. Under the stage lights, Blinken emphasized, “The troops are fighting not just for a free Ukraine but for the free world—and the free world is with you too.”

Moments later, the band began to play, and Mr. Blinken—an experienced guitarist with band history and a few tracks on Spotify—started strumming the opening chords of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” The 1989 anthem, with its chorus reflecting its title, recalls America’s optimism as Soviet communism waned. The song choice underscored the Biden administration’s stance: Western democracies are in a crucial fight against authoritarianism, and Ukraine is at the forefront of this struggle.