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Blinken eats at Ukrainian pizza joint known for pro-Nazi symbols that celebrate tyranny and death
By Cassie B. // May 23, 2024

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s surprise trip to Ukraine has generated its fair share of controversies, but dining at a Ukraine pizza joint decked out with pro-Nazi symbols might just take the cake.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who shared French fries with Blinken at a McDonald’s last year, insisted on eating at a Ukrainian restaurant this time around. The two had a “Ukrainian pizza” featuring meat and a vegetable pizza at a military-themed restaurant known as Veterano Pizza, whose owner, Leonid Ostaltsev, served in the Donbas in 2014. According to the BBC, it is staffed by Ukrainian military veterans, who sometimes supply free pizza to hospitals treating veterans.

Blinken was photographed at what looked like a fairly run-of-the-mill pizzeria table on first glance, but it turns out the place is widely known for the nationalist paraphernalia decorating its walls, including some with Nazi affiliations.

Some online reports appear to depict the same restaurant with Nazi symbols on its walls, such as the Wiking 5th SS Panzer Division insignia from a division of the Nazi Waffen SS paramilitary. Another photo is believed to depict the 2014 Odessa Trade Union Massacre, where dozens of people were burned alive and shot dead by neo-Nazi paramilitaries. There were also flags and pins of the Azov battalion, a neo-Nazi group that is part of Ukraine’s armed forces.

Photos of Blinken’s meal at Veterano Pizza compared to past photos of the eatery circulating online suggest that the restaurant swapped out some of this décor ahead of his visit.

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It’s a particularly bad look considering Putin has said that one of his reasons for going into Ukraine was to “de-Nazify” it. Although this was dismissed by some analysts as propaganda, it is true that there are Nazis and other extremists in Ukraine and its military, and this incident is drawing a lot of unwanted attention to that connection.

Zelensky hit up Blinken for more military aid

Blinken’s visit was intended to demonstrate American solidarity with Ukraine as its war efforts continue to fail. In a meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pressured Blinken to send two more Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine to protect Kharkiv.

Blinken also vowed to make Russia “pay for Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction.” He said: "What Putin destroyed, Russia should and must pay to rebuild. It's what international law demands. It's what the Ukrainian people deserve."

He indicated that the U.S. will “seize” Russian assets in the U.S. and “immobilize” their foreign assets to cover these expenses.

Blinken under fire for playing guitar on stage at a bar

Blinken was also criticized for taking to the stage at a bar in Kiev following a meeting with Ukrainian officials and playing Neil Young’s Rockin' in the Free World while Kharkiv is under attack and the war between Israel and Gaza shows no sign of slowing down. The song itself was an odd choice considering the “free world” mentioned in the song is actually an ironic reference to America’s shortcomings, but the real issue is how inappropriate many Ukrainians feel the performance was as they blame the Biden administration’s failure to come through with aid for their battlefield woes.

Video journalist Nick Sortor wrote: “Nothing to see here. Just Secretary of State Antony Blinken partying at a bar in Ukraine after delivering them another $80 BILLION. These people hate us.”

Rep. Eli Crane (R-Arizona) also weighed in, asking “Could Biden’s foreign policy be any more embarrassing?”

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