Adopting 3 Texts, General Assembly Reschedules Least Developed Countries Conference, Allows Participation of Civil Society, Other Stakeholders in Stockholm+50 Meeting

28 Feb

The General Assembly today adopted without a vote two decisions that expand the involvement of non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders in a global environmental meeting in Stockholm this June while also adopting by consensus a resolution that reschedules the substance of the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries to March 2023 in Doha.

Japan’s Financial Sanctions Against Russia

27 Feb

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

I spoke this morning with Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi and our G-7 counterparts, and, together, we reaffirmed that we have never been more fully aligned across the globe to defend and preserve the freedom and sovereignty of Ukraine and all states.  We stand resolutely together against Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack.  Japan’s announcement today of comprehensive financial sanctions to isolate Russia from the international financial system demonstrates the unity and resolve of the United States, Japan, and other G-7 partners to stop Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.  These actions will deny selected Russian banks access to the global SWIFT financial messaging system, impose restrictions on the Bank of Russia, and sanction key Russian leaders, including President Putin.  The strong and decisive steps of Prime Minister Kishida and the Government of Japan, together with those of other allies and partners, will impose massive costs on Russia and thwart its ability to wage its war of choice on Ukraine.

The Secretary’s Call with Greek Foreign Minister Dendias

27 Feb

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.  The Secretary and Foreign Minister Dendias condemned Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.  The Secretary thanked Greece for its steadfast support of Ukraine and of U.S., NATO, and EU efforts to hold Russia accountable for its actions.  The Secretary and Foreign Minister Dendias also condemned Russia’s attacks on civilian targets, and the Secretary expressed his condolences for ethnic Greeks killed in Russia’s brutal assault on Mariupol.

Dangerously low medical oxygen supplies in Ukraine due to crisis, warn WHO Director-General and WHO Regional Director for Europe

27 Feb

During the crisis in Ukraine, health must remain a priority pillar of the humanitarian response, with health systems and facilities remaining protected, functional, safe and accessible to all who need essential medical services, and health workers protected so they can continue to save lives.

This must include the safe and reliable provision of essential medical supplies, including life-saving medicinal oxygen supplies, which are crucial for patients with a range of conditions, including those with COVID-19 (which number 1,700 in hospital now), and those with other critical illnesses (from neonates to older persons) stemming from complications of pregnancy, childbirth, chronic conditions, sepsis, and injuries and trauma.

The oxygen supply situation is nearing a very dangerous point in Ukraine. Trucks are unable to transport oxygen supplies from plants to hospitals across the country, including the capital Kyiv. The majority of hospitals could exhaust their oxygen reserves within the next 24 hours. Some have already run out. This puts thousands of lives at risk.

Further, medical oxygen generator manufacturers in several areas are also facing shortages of zeolite, a crucial, mainly imported chemical product necessary to produce safe medical oxygen. Safe deliveries of zeolite from outside Ukraine to these plants is also needed.

Compounding the risk to patients, critical hospital services are also being jeopardized by electricity and power shortages, and ambulances transporting patients are in danger of getting caught in the crossfire.

In recent years, with WHO support, Ukraine had made significant strides in strengthening its health systems under an ambitious health reform programme. This included the rapid scale-up of oxygen therapy capacity for severely ill patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the over 600 health facilities nationwide assessed by WHO during the pandemic, close to half were directly supported with supplies, technical know-how and infrastructure investments, enabling health authorities to save tens of thousands of lives.

This progress is now at risk of being derailed during the current crisis.

WHO is helping health authorities identify the country’s immediate oxygen supply surge needs, assuming a 20% to 25% increase over previous needs before the crisis escalated last week.

Despite the challenges posed by the current situation, WHO is working to ensure a supply of oxygen-related medical devices and trauma treatment supplies.

To achieve this, WHO is actively looking at solutions to increase supplies that likely would include the importation of oxygen (liquid and cylinders) from regional networks. These supplies would need safe transit, including via a logistics corridor through Poland.  It is imperative to ensure that lifesaving medical supplies – including oxygen –  reach those who need them.


Dominican Republic Independence Day

27 Feb

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

On behalf of the United States, I send warm wishes to the people of the Dominican Republic as you celebrate your Independence Day on February 27.  As longstanding partners with shared democratic values, the Dominican Republic and the United States collaborate closely on a wide range of shared priorities, and we both benefit from expansive economic and people-to-people ties.

The Dominican Republic stands out as a defender of democracy, grounded in its commitment to fight corruption, promote transparent governance, and advance institutional reforms.  The United States is proud to support these reforms, which will benefit all Dominicans for generations to come.

In the past year, the United States proudly contributed financial and technical assistance for the Dominican Republic’s effective and lifesaving COVID-19 response.  The United States looks forward to deepening our collaboration with the Dominican government as we build back better in the coming year.  We pledge to continue to strengthen our robust and wide-ranging bilateral agenda geared toward tackling corruption, combating socio-economic exclusion, promoting economic prosperity, and bolstering our strategic security partnership.

We congratulate all Dominicans on 178 years of independence.

Honoring Boris Nemtsov on the Seventh Anniversary of his Murder

27 Feb

Ned Price, Department Spokesperson

Today marks seven years since Boris Nemtsov, the former Russian Deputy Prime Minister, anti-corruption activist and physicist, was assassinated just blocks from the Kremlin.  Through his time in public service and by his civic activism, Nemtsov sought to make his country a better place by exposing corruption and advocating for political and economic reforms, for which he paid the ultimate price.  Among Nemtsov’s final projects before he was killed in 2015 was a report exposing Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, which President Vladimir Putin had denied.  Though police ransacked Nemtsov’s apartment and confiscated his writings after his murder, they could not erase his legacy.  We glimpse Boris Nemtsov’s spirit in the courageous citizens of Russia who have publicly condemned the Kremlin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, including petitions signed by hundreds of journalists and municipal leaders condemning the invasion and the thousands of peaceful anti-war protestors detained by Russian authorities in recent days.  As the Kremlin attempts to spread disinformation and suppress dissent, we deeply respect those in Russia who follow Boris Nemtsov’s example and bravely speak up for what is right.

The United States Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance for the People of Ukraine

27 Feb

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Our partnership with the people of Ukraine is steadfast and enduring, and we are focused on Ukraine’s urgent humanitarian needs as an important part of our response to Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack.  It is with the welfare of ordinary Ukrainians in mind that we are announcing the provision of nearly $54 million in humanitarian assistance to those affected by Russia’s further invasion.  This funding includes nearly $26 million from the Department of State and $28 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The United States is one of the largest humanitarian donors to Ukraine, and our humanitarian assistance now amounts to nearly $405 million to vulnerable communities since Russia invaded Ukraine eight years ago.  This latest tranche of humanitarian assistance will flow through independent humanitarian organizations that deliver needs-based assistance with impartiality, humanity, neutrality, and independence.

This additional assistance will enable international humanitarian organizations to further support the people of Ukraine, working closely with the Government of Ukraine and European allies and partners at the forefront of any response.  This includes the provision of food, safe drinking water, shelter, emergency health care, winterization, and protection. Our funding will also help humanitarian organizations maintain contact between family members who have been separated due to the conflict, hopefully leading to reunification in some cases.

The United States commends the hospitality of the neighboring countries in the region hosting fleeing Ukrainians, and we are engaging diplomatically to support their efforts to keep their borders open and assist those seeking international protection.  As with any refugee situation, we call on the international community to respond to the needs of those seeking protection in a way consistent with the principle of non-refoulement and our shared obligations under international law.  We welcome the contributions of other donors toward this crisis response and urge still others to generously support the immediate humanitarian needs in Ukraine and the region.