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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on April 24, 2022.
Photos show the room they met in is the same one seen in multiple photos before and after the Russian invasion began.
A spokesperson for Sen. Chris Murphy confirmed the room is the same room in which Murphy and two other senators met Zelenskyy in June 2021.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin paid a secretive visit to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The April 24 trip almost didn’t happen, the New York Times reported, because Zelenskyy mentioned the planned meeting during a news conference the day before, blowing the U.S. officials’ cover. The secretaries stopped in Poland first, then Blinken and Austin traveled first by car, then by train to Kyiv, leaving members of the media behind because of what officials called security reasons, the Times reported.
Reporters were briefed later in Poland by Blinken and Austin and the U.S. Department of Defense provided Feb. 24 photos of the pair meeting with Zelenskyy and his staff in a room with a conference table and an emblem showing Ukraine’s coat of arms on the wall. But the media-less trip prompted some speculation on social media that the whole trip was fabricated.
In an April 25 Facebook post, conservative author Michael Savage asked, "How do (sic) really know if BLINKEN & AUSTIN were actually in KIEV? was this meeting with Zelensky staged somewhere else? Poland? (no press traveled with them!)"
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
No, the meeting in Kyiv was not staged or held in Poland. There is no evidence of that. Photos show the room is the same one Zelenskyy has used for meetings — both before and after the Russian invasion began. A spokesperson for one U.S. senator who has also met Zelenskyy in that room also confirmed it is the same space.
In this photo from the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, center back to the camera, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, third from left, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, meet on April 24, 2022.
We found multiple images in which you can see the room with the same white table and large TV screens on either side of it. The Ukrainian coat of arms seen between Zelenskyy and the two Cabinet members is visible in other photos, as is the row of air vents above it.
Zelenskyy met in the same room in September 2021 with a congressional delegation that included Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and U.S. Rep. William Timmons, R-S.C.
In this image provided by the Ukrainian presidential press office, U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, Robert Portman and Christopher Murphy meet with Volodymyr Zelenskyy on June 2, 2021, in Kyiv.
In June 2021, U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., visited Kyiv and met with Zelenskyy in that room.
A spokesperson for Murphy confirmed to PolitiFact that the room he met the Ukrainian president in is the same one seen in the photos of Blinken and Austin’s visit. It was held in the Presidential Administration Building in Kyiv, the spokesperson said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets with Slovenia Prime Minister Janez Jansa, Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Fiala, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Kyiv on March 15, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office)
Zelenskyy also held a video conference meeting in that room with representatives from Facebook on Sept. 27, 2021.
Savage suggested on Facebook that a secretive visit to a warzone in Kyiv was held elsewhere because no members of the media were there to document the trip.
The media was not allowed to accompany Blinken and Austin on the trip for security reasons, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen in Kyiv. Multiple photos show the exact same room in use by Zelenskyy in meetings with others well before the war began.
We rate this claim False.
Email exchange with spokesperson for Sen. Chris Murphy, April 27, 2022
U.S. Department of Defense, "Blinken, Austin Meet Ukraine's President in Kyiv," April 25, 2022
President of Ukraine official website, "Meeting of the President of Ukraine with the US Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense," April 25, 2022
President of Ukraine official website, "Meeting of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with representatives of the Ukrainian media," April 5, 2022
President of Ukraine official website, "Meeting of the President of Ukraine with the Prime Ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia," March 16, 2022
The Times of Israel, "European PMs meet Zelensky in Kyiv as Russia intensifies bombardment on capital," March 15, 2022
President of Ukraine official website, "For the first time in ten years, Ukraine has launched its satellite into space - Volodymyr Zelenskyy," Jan. 13, 2022
President of Ukraine official website, "President of Ukraine held a video conference with representatives of Facebook," Sept. 27, 2021
U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, tweet, Sept. 7, 2021
President of Ukraine official website, "President of Ukraine meets with U.S. Congress delegation," Sept. 6, 2021
President of Ukraine official website, "President discussed security situation in Donbas and along Ukrainian-Russian border with US Senators," June 2, 2021
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