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Blinken visits London, Kyiv amid tensions with Russia and China

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken disembarks after landing at Stansted Airport on Sunday May 2, 2021, ahead of the upcoming G7 foreign ministers meeting.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken disembarks after landing at Stansted Airport on Sunday May 2, 2021, ahead of the upcoming G7 foreign ministers meeting.   -   Copyright  Ben Stansall/Pool via AP
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in London on Monday for a meeting of G7 foreign ministers and will then travel on to Kyiv amid tensions with Russia and China.

Blinken’s London trip is mainly designed to prepare President Joe Biden’s participation in a G7 leaders summit that Britain will host in June. But it is also aimed at presenting a united front to address global challenges posed by China, climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

The G7 meeting in London is being held against the backdrop of the Biden administration's desire to restore close ties with US allies, notably on confronting China, Russia and climate change.

Yet it also comes at a time of widespread unease about Biden's decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in September.

Blinken “is looking forward to discussing the democratic values that we share with our partners and allies within the G7," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

“The United States will discuss how we can work with other countries to address the key geopolitical issues we face as we build back better from this pandemic.”

'Russian aggression'

In Kyiv, Blinken plans to express US support for Ukraine against the ongoing challenge of Russian support for separatists in the country’s east and its recent buildup of troops along the border.

He will “reaffirm unwavering US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression," Price said.

But while Russian aggression will top the agenda, several other issues are likely to be addressed.

Rampant corruption

The first of those is rampant corruption, notably in Ukraine's energy sector, which has been a perennial problem and was at the centre of Donald Trump's first impeachment and Republican attacks on the Bidens.

The issue resurfaced just this week with the State Department expressing “deep concern” over the government's replacement of the board of Ukraine's leading energy company.

“This calculated move using a procedural loophole to oust well-regarded experts from the boards of several key state-owned enterprises reflects a disregard for fair and transparent corporate governance practices and complicates long-standing efforts to reform Ukraine’s energy sector and improve its investment climate,” Price said on Thursday.