On the finish of a somber day within the Ukrainian capital, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken slipped right into a seat at Barman Dictat, a crowded basement cocktail bar the place a punk-jazz band was squealing away.

After a number of songs, the band’s frontman known as Mr. Blinken onstage on Tuesday and, by prearrangement, America’s high diplomat slung a pink Gibson guitar over his shoulder.

“I do know this can be a actually, actually tough time,” mentioned Mr. Blinken, who had discarded his typical darkish go well with and tie for blue denims and a darkish button-down shirt. It was a reference to current Russian army positive aspects. Ukraine’s troopers, notably within the northeastern metropolis of Kharkiv, he mentioned, “are struggling tremendously.”

“However they should know, it is advisable know, america is with you, a lot of the world is with you,” he mentioned, hitting the core message of his unannounced go to to Kyiv, a visit supposed partially to highlight almost $61 billion in additional military aid signed into legislation by President Biden in April after months of delays primarily brought on by a small band of right-wing Home Republicans.

The troops, he mentioned underneath vibrant stage lights, “are combating not only for a free Ukraine however for the free world — and the free world is with you too.”

“So, possibly we will attempt one thing?” he added. “I don’t know if we will pull this off.”

A second later, the band had began up, and Mr. Blinken — a longtime guitarist who has performed in bands and even has a number of tracks obtainable on Spotify — started strumming the opening chords of Neil Younger’s anthemic “Rockin’ within the Free World” with at the least fundamental competence.

With its 1989 classic and a refrain that matches its title, the tune evokes America’s triumphalism as Soviet communism started to break down. It was clearly chosen to underscore one of many central messages of Mr. Blinken’s tenure and the Biden presidency: that Western democracies are in a significant battle with reactionary authoritarian forces.

To Mr. Blinken, Ukraine — a younger democracy at warfare with Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia — is a entrance line of that battle.

Critics may query the tune alternative: the Canadian-born Mr. Younger isn’t any American nationalist, and the tune’s lyrics are reducing in regards to the state of an America with younger moms hooked on medication, and mocked President George H.W. Bush’s promise of a “kinder, gentler” nation.

In that sense, the tune is usually misunderstood, very similar to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the united statesA.” — which isn’t a patriotic anthem however a stinging indictment of Reagan-era America. (Which may be one purpose Mr. Young sued President Donald J. Trump to cease him from taking part in his monitor at 2020 marketing campaign rallies.)

Mr. Blinken’s onstage foray shortly drew barbs on-line from critics who, citing hunger in Gaza or horror in Kharkiv, mentioned that this was no time for a cupboard official to be jamming in denims. “This isn’t a critical administration,” a Republican Nationwide Committee account posted on the social media.

However the second appeared to serve its objective. A policy address by Mr. Blinken earlier in the day about long-term assist for Ukraine was one thing lower than successful on social media. By Tuesday afternoon, nonetheless, his politically tinged rocking was going viral.



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