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Transcript: Secretary of State Antony Blinken on “Face the Nation,” January 23, 2022


The next is a transcript of an interview with Secretary of State Antony Blinken that aired Sunday, January 23, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”


MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We start with the tense standoff alongside the Ukraine border. A couple of hundred thousand Russian troops are actually poised to doubtlessly invade from the north, east and south of Ukraine. Russian fighter jets and missiles arrived in neighboring Belarus, the place warfare video games are set to start. In the meantime, NATO naval workout routines are happening south of Crimea within the Mediterranean, and 90 tons of navy help simply arrived in Kiev from america. President Biden is monitoring the scenario from Camp David, and he met along with his nationwide safety staff yesterday. Late Saturday, Britain accused Russia of a plot to put in a pro-Russian chief in Ukraine because it considers some type of assault. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is simply again from consultations along with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and he joins us this morning from the State Division. Good morning. Mr. Secretary, these all appear like indicators of escalation.

SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN: Nicely, we have been seeing this all through Russia’s been engaged in an ongoing escalation, and it has to cross earlier than it, that we put earlier than it. There’s a path of diplomacy and dialogue, which is clearly the preferable one, probably the most accountable factor to do. There’s additionally the trail of Russian aggression and large penalties for Russia if it engages in that aggression. And so I attempted to clarify each paths in my assembly with International Minister Lavrov in Geneva this week, and we’ll see if we will advance the diplomacy. However at the same time as we’re doing that, we’re getting ready, build up defenses, build up deterrence if Russia chooses the opposite path.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But when Russia’s calls for are non-starters, what precisely are you negotiating? As a result of Russia is creating these details on the bottom, they’re setting the phrases right here, it appears. Are they only utilizing you to purchase time or to construct a predicate for invasion?

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Nicely, that is precisely why, at the same time as we interact within the diplomacy, to discover whether or not there are methods on a reciprocal foundation of build up collective safety, answering a number of the issues that Russia could have, Russia answering the various issues that we now have. At the same time as we’re doing that, we’re build up protection and deterrence. We have now rallied allies and companions throughout Europe in a really intense means over the past weeks to make very clear that there can be large penalties for renewed Russian aggression. We offered extra navy help to Ukraine final yr than in any earlier yr. We have been going after brokers of Russia in- in Ukraine searching for to destabilize the federal government. I simply accepted the- the switch of U.S. origin navy expertise in different international locations to Ukraine. So we’re continuing on each paths on the identical time, we’ll be prepared both means. The selection is Vladimir Putin’s.

MARGARET BRENNAN: However- however what are you negotiating if Russia’s calls for are non-starters? I imply, President Biden has already mentioned Ukraine will not be going to affix NATO any time quickly. You’ve got made this supply of reciprocal navy workout routines. What’s left to speak about?

SECRETARY BLINKEN: MARGARET, we began this- this effort of diplomacy and dialogue about 10 days in the past, we had conferences between america and Russia via the so-called Strategic Stability Dialogue. We had a gathering of the NATO-Russia Council. We had a gathering on the OSCE. And in the middle of that, Russia has put some concepts on the desk in writing to each america and NATO. We have been in very shut session with allies and companions on what they put ahead. We are actually sharing our personal concepts in addition to our personal deep issues. And we’ll see if within the combine there, there are issues that we will do once more on a reciprocal foundation that may really advance collective safety in a means that solutions a few of what we’re listening to and Russia answering quite a lot of what they’re listening to from us. And as Russia appears to be like at that and because it considers the large penalties that may befall it if it pursues aggression, it should decide. It should put these issues within the steadiness and resolve what the perfect path ahead is. I do know what probably the most accountable path ahead is. Whether or not President Putin agrees stays to be seen.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Nicely, he hasn’t de-escalated it seems thus far, regardless of all of what you simply laid out. In case you are targeted on deterrence, why not do what Ukraine is asking you to do and sanction now, take motion now? Why hold it as a punitive matter after the actual fact?

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Nicely, first, we’re, as I mentioned, taking motion now we constructed up throughout these many weeks a really robust coalition of nations that has made it very clear it can take very important motion if Russia commits renewed acts of aggression. You’ve got heard that not simply from us, you have heard it from the G7, the main democratic economies on this planet, from the European Union and from NATO–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Proper and Ukraine is saying you can go more durable, you can be stronger.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: We provided- we have offered very important navy help to Ukraine. We have been taking motion in opposition to Russian brokers in Ukraine. However as to the sanctions, crucial factor we will do is to make use of them as a deterrent, as a way of dissuading Russia from partaking in additional aggression. As soon as sanctions are triggered, you lose the deterrent impact. So what we’re doing is placing collectively an entire sequence of actions that may determine into President Putin’s calculus.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Proper. However I imply, even President Biden mentioned at his press convention this week, he is spent quite a lot of time making an attempt to get NATO’s allies to really be on the identical web page on the subject of something in need of invasion. I imply, it looks as if Putin’s best technique can be to hit on that weak point, that is the way you divide NATO’s allies. I imply, simply yesterday, the pinnacle of the German Navy needed to resign due to pro-Putin statements. This does not appear like the alliance is totally collectively right here.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: First, we have been very clear that if there’s any additional Russian aggression when it comes to sending Russian forces into Ukraine, there might be a swift, there might be a extreme and there might be a united response from america and Europe. Second, we have been equally clear that Russia engages in different ways in need of sending forces into- into Ukraine or different international locations: hybrid actions, cyberattacks, efforts to carry a authorities down. And there are too. I am very assured based mostly on the various consultations I’ve had with European allies and companions that there might be a swift calibrated and in addition united response. Look, I sat with Chancellor Schulz in Germany final week, in addition to with my German counterpart, my French counterpart, my British counterpart and I’m very satisfied there might be a united response to no matter Russia does.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is the truth that you want Iran- want Russia that will help you with the Iran negotiations tying your arms?

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Not within the least. And once more, it is essential to place this in perspective, too, Margaret. That is about extra even than Ukraine and Russia, extra even than Europe, Russia, america, Russia. It truly is and ought to be a world concern as a result of there are some fundamental ideas of worldwide relations at stake which have helped hold the peace and safety–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Proper–

SECRETARY BLINKEN: in Europe for- for the final of the final a long time. And the- and it goes to very fundamental ideas one nation cannot change the–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Precisely however Vladimir Putin– Vladimir Putin clearly has no regard for these ideas and hasn’t, I imply, up to now eight years that he is been invading and taking elements of Ukraine. If you get to that greater, “What is that this all about?” query, the State Division mentioned this week they have been involved about the potential for Russia transferring nuclear weapons again into Belarus. I imply, you could have excessive precision tools being moved in the direction of Ukraine. Is that this about one thing extra than simply that nation?

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Nicely, that is precisely why, at the same time as we’re engaged in diplomacy, we’re very a lot targeted on build up protection. Build up deterrence, each for Ukraine, NATO itself, NATO itself will proceed to be strengthened in a big means if Russia commits renewed acts of aggression. All of that is- is on the desk. However once more, on the subject of these ideas, MARGARET, the precept that one nation cannot merely change the borders of one other by pressure, that it might probably’t resolve for one more nation its decisions, its choices–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Russia already has.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Nicely, that is what we’re- that is what we’re standing resolutely in opposition to. And it hasn’t. It is tried to say that NATO’s door ought to be shut on Ukraine. It isn’t. It stays open. We stand by that precept.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How important is the insider menace to President Zelensky and his authorities?

SECRETARY BLINKEN: That is once more, a part of the Russian playbook. It is one thing we’re very targeted on, and that is why we have been talking about it. We have raised this publicly in current weeks. We need to put folks on discover and on guard that that is one thing Russia may do. Simply as we talked about the potential for a so-called false flag operation the place Russia creates a provocation within Ukraine, use that as justification to take aggressive motion. All of these issues are a part of the playbook. All of these issues we’re on guard in opposition to. All of these issues we’re speaking to allies and companions about to guarantee that in opposition to any of those situations, we’re totally ready.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Earlier than I allow you to go, does the timing of the Olympics have any impact on Putin’s calculus? Russia invaded Georgia through the Olympics again in 2008. Any impression right here?

SECRETARY BLINKEN: You’d need to ask him. I do not assume so. I feel that Russia will make its choices based mostly on President Putin’s calculus of what is what’s of their curiosity. We’re working very exhausting to have an effect on that calculus, each when it comes to providing a diplomatic path ahead that might improve collective safety for all of us and equally a path of protection and deterrence. That makes very clear that if there’s aggression, there will be large penalties. So the selection is his.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Secretary, we’ll be watching. Thanks to your time at the moment. And in a single minute, we’ll check out the brand new developments within the January sixth assault investigation with Congressman Bennie Thompson. Stick with us.



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