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Secretary of State Antony Blinken covers “Rockin’ in the Free World” in Kyiv to mixed reactions



A politician was cringy and tone-deaf — what a shock! On Tuesday (May 14th), United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken hopped on stage at a bar in Kyiv, Ukraine, to cover the Neil Young classic “Rockin’ in the Free World,” surprising Americans, Ukrainians, and, reportedly, the band.

As reported by The Guardian, the band Blinken joined at the Barman Dictat bar, 19.99, were initially told they would be performing the song with Neil Young himself. It wasn’t until just before they were set to play that they found out the special guest was, in reality, Blinken.

“Your soldiers, your citizens — particularly in the north-east, in Kharkiv — are suffering tremendously,” Blinken said prior to launching into the song. “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.”

Blinken was in the Ukrainian capital to discuss United States aid with President Volodymyr Zelensky. It was the first visit by a Biden administration official since President Biden signed the latest aid package for the country in April.

The performance elicited mixed reactions from online commenters both in Ukraine and stateside.

As noted by The Guardian, the head of one Ukrainian NGO wrote on Facebook, “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.”

“Everyone has a take on Sec. Blinken’s jamming to Neil Young’s ‘Rockin in the Free World’ in Kyiv. But do you really know what the song is about? Read the lyrics. Interesting pick for the U.S. top diplomat,” another user posted on Twitter, as noted by Loudwire.

Still, Blinken wasn’t entirely condemned. The guitarist of 19.99, Arsen Gorbach, considered the joint performance “a very important point of Ukrainian history and cultural history.”

Watch a clip of Antony Blinken playing “Rockin’ in the Free World” with 19.99 below.

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