Putin is not “serious” about negotiating with Ukraine, says Blinken

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not shown “seriousness” in his intentions to negotiate an end to the conflict with Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.

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“We have seen no sign that President Putin is serious about meaningful negotiations,” Blinken told the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

The United States will support the Ukrainian authorities in their diplomatic efforts to negotiate a peace deal, the head of American diplomacy added, stating: “Our goal is to ensure that they are capable of repelling Russian aggression, and indeed theirs.” to strengthen position at a possible negotiating table”.

Antony Blinken responded to Senator Rand Paul, a Republican opposed to US interventionism, who accused President Joe Biden of contributing to Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine by “banging the drum for Ukraine’s admission to NATO.” beats”.

But for the chief American diplomat, in talks with Russia before the invasion began on February 24, it was clear that Putin’s criticism of Kiev’s integration into the alliance was just a smokescreen.

“We tried to talk seriously with (the Russians) about these issues,” he said. “It was very clear, in President Putin’s own words, that it was never about Ukraine’s possible entry into NATO, but because he had always believed that Ukraine did not deserve to be a sovereign and independent country.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres traveled to Moscow on Tuesday after Monday’s visit to Turkey, a country trying to mediate in the conflict. He will then go to Kyiv.

Attempts at direct negotiations between the two countries have stalled, although the head of Russian diplomacy Sergei Lavrov assured on Monday that they would go ahead.

Antony Blinken, who is due to be heard by the Senate committee for three days, paid a surprise visit to Kyiv on Sunday with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the first senior US official since the invasion began, where they met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

He commended the level of US military aid and its speed in delivering it to Ukraine, explaining that following a request from Kyiv, the process has now taken about 72 hours.

On his train ride from the Polish border to Kyiv, “we saw miles of Ukrainian countryside and territory that the Russian government has thought in recent months could be taken within weeks and that is firmly controlled by Ukraine,” he said .

“In Kyiv we saw a busy city coming to life again, people eating outside, sitting on benches, walking around,” he said, assuring that “the Ukrainians won the battle of Kyiv.”

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