Blinken faces backlash over ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ performance in Kyiv bar, netizens say it ‘leaves ears bleeding’ – Hindustan Times

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ByShweta Kukreti

Antony Blinken, who gave a rocking musical performance at a bar in Kyiv, drew sharp criticism after the video of his performance gone viral on social media.

US State Secretary Antony Blinken, who gave a rocking musical performance at a bar in Ukraine’s capital, drew sharp criticism after the video of his performance gone viral on social media.

Many X users called Antony Blinken’s performance inappropriate considering Ukraine’s continuing conflict with Russia.

During a surprise visit to Kyiv on Tuesday amidst ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, Blinken performed a cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” with a band at the Barman Dictat, a popular cocktail basement bar.

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The Biden official promised that the US would keep supporting Ukraine, despite recent setbacks in assistance that have been critical to its defense operations.

After Blinken appeared on stage with the Ukrainian band 19.99, the audience burst in cheers.

Addressing the crowd, he said: “Your soldiers, your citizens—particularly in the northeast, in 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, and they’re fighting not just for a free Ukraine, but for the free world. And the free world is with you, too,” he added.

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Blinken under fire over ‘poorly timed’ performance

Many X users called the top US diplomat’s performance inappropriate considering Ukraine’s continuing conflict with Russia.

Some Ukrainians even chastised him for what they saw as bad judgment given Russia’s recent push into northwestern Ukraine.

In a Facebook post, Svitlana Matviyenko, the executive director of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives NGO, termed the US State Secretary’s performance as “inappropriate”, mentioning that it came when Russia launched a new offensive in the Kharkiv oblast.

“Kharkiv region is being wiped from the Earth, people are leaving their homes, Kharkiv is under strike from air bombs. Sumy region is preparing, and a US top official is singing songs in a Kyiv bar,” she wrote.

Taking to X, Oleh Symoroz, a Ukrainian veteran who lost both legs in the conflict, called the performance “as inappropriate as possible.”

“Not the right time, not the right time at all. So many people die every day because we don’t have enough weapons and enough support from our allies,” he wrote.

“Therefore, such concerts, I’m sorry, are simply tactless and inappropriate. I advise the Secretary of State to visit a military cemetery instead of a bar,” Symoroz added.

Ukrainian politician Bogdan Yaremenko stated that Blinken’s performance was poorly timed.

While appreciating the United States’ invaluable assistance, Yaremenko said: “But we also can’t unsee all that makes the impression that the United States performs for the free world is not rock and roll, but some other music similar to Russian chanson.”

Jimmy Rushton, a foreign policy expert in Kyiv, described the performance as “astonishingly tone-deaf.”

“This isn’t supposed to be a [f—ing] vacation; Ukrainian soldiers are fighting and dying in large numbers right now along the frontline and Blinken is in a bar in Kyiv pretending to be a rockstar,” he tweeted.

Blinken also experienced domestic criticism from the Republican National Committee (RNC), which stated, “This is not a serious administration.”

“The US Secretary of State abandoning professional dignity to sing a song called ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ at a people facing total demographic collapse thanks to that ‘Free World’, while their Armed Forces are disintegrating in real time, is embarrassingly fitting,” one X user reacted.

Blinken landed in war-torn Ukraine to hold meeting with top authorities, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to demonstrate the United States’ support for the nation. It was the first official discussions since Congress approved a large foreign aid package that included $60 billion for Ukraine’s army and air defense systems.

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