US Secretary of State Antony Blinken strongly condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attacks on Ukrainian civilians, calling them “barbaric.” He also vowed that the United States and NATO allies will continue to support Kyiv in the face of Russian efforts to “split our coalition.”
“As Ukraine continues to gain momentum on the battlefield, President Putin has focused his anger and fire on Ukraine’s civilian population,” Blinken said at a news conference Wednesday at the foreign ministers’ meeting of the NATO. in Bucharest. “In recent weeks, Russia has bombed more than a third of the Ukrainian energy system, plunging millions of people into the cold, into the dark, as freezing temperatures prevail.”
“Heating, water, electricity, for children, for the elderly, for the sick: these are President Putin’s new goals. He is hitting them hard,” the senior US diplomat said. “This brutalization of the Ukrainian people is barbaric.”
On Tuesday, the US government pledged more than $50 million worth of equipment to support Ukraine’s power system. Blinken said on Wednesday that the equipment (generators, transformers, spare parts) would arrive in Ukraine “not in a matter of months, but in a matter of days or weeks.”
Blinken said attacks on civilian infrastructure were part of Putin’s “playbook” to “freeze and starve Ukrainians, force them out of their homes,” drive up energy and food costs around the world. world, “and then try to split our coalition.
“President Putin believes that if he can increase costs enough, the world will abandon Ukraine, leaving them alone. His strategy hasn’t worked and it won’t work,” Blinken said.
The allies are aware that “defending Ukraine means accepting difficult costs,” Blinken said, “but the cost of inaction would be far greater.”
Blinken said diplomacy would be needed to completely end Russia’s war in Ukraine, but noted that “Russia’s savage attacks on Ukrainian civilians are the latest demonstration that President Putin currently has no significant diplomatic interest.”
“The best way to really accelerate the prospects for real diplomacy is to maintain our support for Ukraine and continue to tilt the battlefield in their favor,” Blinken said. “That will also help ensure that Ukraine has the strongest possible bargaining position and hand to play when a negotiating table emerges.”
“Unless Russia puts an end to the aggression it started, that is the only path to a peace that is just and lasting,” Blinken said.