Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday to discuss the mounting tension between the U.S. and Russia as they are poised to make a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has been “committing acts of aggression” against its neighbors for the past decade according to Blinken. Blinken also said that Russia’s acts of aggression stemmed from Putin’s desire to “restore the former Soviet Union,” and called it “unacceptable.”
“We can’t go back to a world of influence,” Blinken stated. “That was a recipe for instability, a recipe for conflict, a recipe that led to world wars.”
When Tapper asked whether an invasion of Ukraine was likely, Blinken maintained that the ball was firmly in Putin’s court. “It’s up to President Putin which path he wants to follow,” he stated, though promising that the U.S. was “prepared to deal very resolutely with Russia” if it chose confrontation.
The U.S. and Russia are scheduled to begin talks in Geneva Monday to avert conflict even as Russia continues to position troops on the Ukraine border. Dismissing concerns that this build-up would potentially give Putin leverage, Blinken maintained that because the U.S. is working with international partners it will make it “clear to Russia that their aggression will not be accepted, will not be tolerated.”
Putin has blamed the U.S. and NATO for escalating tensions by building up defenses near Russia’s borders and welcoming Ukraine into NATO.
“We have clearly and precisely let them know that any further NATO expansion eastward is unacceptable,” Putin stated last month. “Is it us who are putting missiles near the U.S. borders?” he continued. “No, it’s the U.S. who came to our home with their missiles. They are already on the threshold of our home. Is it some excessive demand not to place any offensive systems near our home?”
Blinken responded to Putin’s argument stating that “one country can’t dictate to another its foreign policies … or with whom it will associate.”
Blinken stated, “It’s not about making concessions. It’s about seeing whether, in the context of dialogue and diplomacy, there are things that both sides, all sides can do to reduce tensions.” Though he conceded that he did not believe anything would be resolved this week.
“We’re going to be able to put things on the table. Russians will do the same … and we’ll see if there are grounds for moving forward,” Blinken concluded.