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“They are equally resolute in their determination to stand against Russian aggression, to ideally deter it, prevent it,” Blinken said, referring to U.S. allies he met with at the G7 meeting on Saturday. “And we’ve made clear as well that there would be massive consequences if Russia commits renewed acts of aggression against Ukraine.”
Blinken told NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd that President Biden has “made it clear” to Russian President Vladimir Putin on two separate occasions that the United States prefers a “more stable, predictable relationship with Russia” and that the United States and its allies will take action if they continue to be “reckless.”
“I think what people need to understand is that Ukraine is important, and we are resolute in our commitment to its sovereignty, its territorial integrity,” Blinken said. “But there is something even bigger at stake here, and it’s the basic rules of the road of the international system, rules that say that one country can’t change the borders of another by force, one country can’t dictate to another country its choices, its decisions, and its foreign policy, with whom it will associate.”
“That’s what Russia is purporting to assert. And if we let that go with impunity, then the entire system that provides for stability, prevents war from breaking out is in danger,” Blinken continued.
Todd followed up by pressing Blinken on why “Russia amassing troops and terrorizing Ukraine” didn’t trigger a response from the United States to “punish” Russia.
“Well, it’s been a trigger for action,” Blinken said. “It’s been a trigger for us bringing together allies and partners around the world, starting in Europe with our closest partners, NATO, again, where I was just a couple weeks ago, bringing people together, together to make very clear not only the deep shared concern but the fact that we are prepared together in a coordinated way to take very strong action if Mr. Putin continues his aggression against Ukraine.”
Later during the interview, Blinken was asked whether a face-to-face meeting between Biden and Putin was on the table, a request that Putin made of Biden. Blinken avoided answering the question the first two times he was asked by instead talking about how they would like to see “Russia pull back forces from the border” and “engage in good faith in diplomacy and diplomatic dialogue with the Europeans, with Ukraine, to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine and to give Ukraine its borders back.”
Todd noted after the interview that he asked Blinken a third time about the face-to face meeting and Blinken told him that it was not off the table, but “pretty unlikely.”
U.S. officials maintain that Putin has not made a decision whether he will invade Ukraine, but the U.S. has warned against “high impact” economic consequences should he negate Ukraine’s sovereignty.
The White House has not expressed what their strategic response would look like if the Kremlin fails to heed the warnings from the U.S. and its allies, but adding more U.S. troops in neighboring countries and blocking the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline have been floated as potential options.
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.