QUESTION: Thank you, Secretary Blinken, for joining us today to take questions for our USApoRusski Telegram channel followers. Let’s go straight to the questions.
Our first question comes from Ekaterina Kotrikadze, an independent Russian journalist with TV Dozhd. She asks: “President Zelenskyy gave a speech at the UN Security Council and he was tough. He accused the organization of meaninglessness and weakness. He’s got a point. What is the mission of a Security Council which cannot actually provide security? He thinks it’s time to exclude Russia. Would you agree with Zelenskyy, and is it possible to reform the UN Security Council in the near future?”
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, President Zelenskyy is right that there is a problem with the Security Council. There is a fundamental problem when one of its permanent members, whose number-one responsibility is to maintain international peace and security, is the very country that is grossly violating international peace and security with its aggression on Ukraine, and that’s Russia. So there’s a pretty fundamental problem there.
At the same time, I think what we’re seeing is the United Nations as a whole coming together powerfully in support of Ukraine and against the Russian aggression, 141 countries having their vote counted and their voice heard in that. So I think the UN itself is stepping up, also at the Human Rights Council where a Commission of Inquiry has been created to investigate the abuses being committed by Russia in Ukraine. But the Security Council itself does have a problem that is a real challenge, and unless and until Russia acts as a responsible member of that council, the problem will remain.
QUESTION: Thank you. And our next question comes from Vitaliy Sizov from UATV. Vitaliy asks: “Is the U.S. ready to be a guarantor of security in Ukraine in the event a peace agreement is reached with Russia?”
SECRETARY BLINKEN: So we’re in constant contact with our Ukrainian partners at all levels talking about, among other things, whether – if there is a negotiated solution, outcome, what can be done to help ensure that this doesn’t happen again, that Ukraine is able to defend itself going forward, that it can deter future Russian aggression. And I’m not going to get into the details of what that might involve, but a number of countries are talking to Ukraine about exactly that.
And we want to make sure that to the best of our ability, once this Russian aggression is over and Ukraine fully asserts its sovereignty and independence, that this can’t be repeated.
QUESTION: Our next question is from Iurii Sheiko from Deutsche Welle: “Yesterday you announced additional security assistance for Ukraine of $100 million. You said it would contain anti-armor systems. Ukraine has already received a lot of anti-tank weapons while the main danger to its cities like Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, and many others is posed not by tanks or other armored vehicles, but by aircraft, artillery, and missiles. Does the U.S. intend to provide or support providing systems to defend from those types of weapons, namely bigger air defense capabilities, artillery installations, or jets?”
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, we and many other countries around the world, especially in Europe, have been providing over many months not only anti-armor systems to deal with the tanks, but anti-air systems to deal with helicopters and airplanes. And the Ukrainians, because of their extraordinary courage, have been incredibly effective in using these systems to push back Russian aggression. Russia didn’t leave Kyiv or the outskirts of Kyiv by its own free will; it was pushed out and pushed back by Ukrainians and they were using many of the systems we provided them.
What we’re focused on is making sure that we get to Ukraine the systems that they can use now and use effectively. At the same time, we’re looking at other systems – some of them larger, more sophisticated – that may be useful and important going forward, but where, for example, Ukrainians need to be trained, because some of these systems you can’t just turn them over and have them be used immediately. Training is required; maintenance is required.
So what we focused on is what can Ukrainians use immediately and use effectively, but we’re also looking at over the longer term what could they use with the right training, with the right support, with the right maintenance. All of that we’re working on right now.
QUESTION: Okay. And our final question comes from Current Time TV: “Most Russians are kept in the dark about the war in Ukraine. No independent media outlets remain inside Russia. Many Kremlin critics have been forced to leave the country and opinion polls show broad support for the so-called special military operation, prompting accusations of Russian society’s collective responsibility for the war. Current Time’s own vox pops show that many Russians are unaware or supportive of their army’s actions in Ukraine. What message do you have for the Russian public in this context?”
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, I wish I could effectively deliver a message to the Russian public. The fact of the matter is I can’t speak on Russian television. Most social media is blocked, or I would be blocked from speaking to it. And so Russians are being fed morning, noon, and night a steady diet of propaganda that doesn’t reflect the facts, that doesn’t reflect the truth, that doesn’t allow them to make their own judgements. Because we can all come to our own judgments and our own conclusions, and they may be different as long as we have the facts upon which to make those judgments. Unfortunately, tragically, the Russian people aren’t getting them.
But if I was able to speak to the Russian people and thought they could hear me, I guess the question I would ask is: How is this war, how is this aggression being committed by Russia on Ukraine – how is it doing anything to make a difference in your lives? How is it answering any of the needs that you have, the same needs that Americans and Europeans and Ukrainians and people all over the world have, which is to send your kids to school, to put food on the table, to save some money, to build a better future? How does it help? How does it do anything to address those needs that are shared around the world?
And I guess I’d say as well that President Biden, when – before this aggression against Ukraine said to President Putin repeatedly that the strong preference of the United States is to have a more stable, predictable relationship with Russia. How does attacking a country unprovoked and in a pre-planned way do anything to build that kind of stability and predictability? We have so many big things that we can and should be working on as countries: dealing with COVID-19, recovering economically, answering the existential challenge posed by climate change. These are things that affect Americans and Russians and people all over the world. That’s what we should be spending our time on.
But tragically, because, without reason, Vladimir Putin decided to attack Ukraine, the world is now focused on this. And it’s the entire world; it’s not just the United States. Countries have come together from across the planet, 141 at the United Nations, standing up and rejecting this Russian aggression, supporting the Ukrainian people. So I wish the Russian people could get that message because this is not about them. This is tragically about a choice that Vladimir Putin has made, a choice that does nothing to advance the lives of Russians, and unfortunately, tragically, is doing everything to destroy the lives of Ukrainians.