At the White House briefing on Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki said that Russian President Vladimir Putin created the standoff over Ukraine, calling it an “extremely dangerous situation.” She added that Russia could launch an attack on Ukraine “at any point.”
- What do you hope to achieve with the Secretary of State heading not only to Ukraine but then later to Geneva to meet with Lavrov, especially since talks over Ukraine aren't exactly going all that well right now?
- Well, let me just give you a little bit of an update on where things stand. And obviously, you're following this closely. But this morning, Secretary Blinken spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. They agreed to meet in Geneva as you noted. At that meeting, Secretary Blinken will urge Russia to take immediate steps to de-escalate. He will also fly to Kiev to consult with President Zelensky and Ukraine's leaders, and to Germany for consultations.
As you also know, there is a congressional delegation that is also on their way there. And it's a note, I would note that that just indicates that support for Ukraine has always been a bipartisan issue. And we welcome that. But where things stand right now, President Putin has created this crisis by amassing 100,000 Russian troops along Ukraine's borders. This includes moving Russian forces into Belarus recently for joint exercises and conducting additional exercises on Ukraine's Eastern border.
So let's be clear. Our view is this is an extremely dangerous situation. We are now at a stage where Russia could, at any point, launch an attack in Ukraine. And what Secretary Blinken is going to go do is highlight very clearly, there is a diplomatic path forward. It is the choice of President Putin and the Russians to make, whether they are going to suffer severe economic consequences or not.