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US Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg in Kyiv, announces infrastructure advisor for Ukraine

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 8, 2023 6:05 PM 2 min read
Ambassador Bridget A. Brink with U.S. Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg in Kyiv on Nov. 8, 2023. (Ambassador Bridget A. Brink / X)
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U.S. Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg arrived in Kyiv for an official visit, the U.S. Transportation Department announced on Nov. 8.

"Our message today is clear: the United States supports Ukraine and the Ukrainian people," U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink captioned a photo of his arrival on X.

The reason for the visit is "to deliver on a top ask to place an infrastructure advisor here," Buttigieg said in a separate post on X.

The Kyiv-based advisor will "provide technical assistance on project delivery as part of the country’s rebuilding efforts."

The Transportation Department named the advisor as Robert Mariner, who has "decades of transportation project experience" working for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy.

Mariner has previously served as an advisor to the Transportation Counselor to U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, the Transportation Department said.

Mariner's posting is "one of countless ways the U.S. continues to stand with the people of Ukraine for the long haul and ensure its connection to the world," Buttigieg said.  

After arriving in Kyiv, Buttigieg joined Brink on a visit to the Come Back Alive Foundation, an NGO that supports members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and spoke to veterans.

"While we salute those fighting on the frontlines, we also recognize the important role veterans’ organizations are playing in Ukraine’s recovery," Brink said.

They then met with Buttigieg's Ukrainian counterpart, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.

Kubrakov thanked Buttigieg and Brink "for an incredibly pleasant and productive meeting."

The three discussed how to boost Ukraine's economy through strengthening logistics routes by road, rail, and water, Kubrakov said.

The posting of a senior infrastructure advisor to Kyiv comes weeks after the arrival of Penny Pritzker, the U.S. Special Representative for Economic Recovery in Ukraine, on Oct. 16.

After talks with Pritzker, Kubrakov announced on Oct. 17 that the U.S. is to provide Ukraine with nearly $700 million in funds to improve and modernize the country's logistics and transport infrastructure.

The funds will be used to improve the conditions of Ukraine's railways, ports, checkpoints, and other transportation infrastructure.

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