Secretary Antony J. Blinken With EU High Representative Josep Borrell

4 Mar

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Josep Borrell, EU High Representative

Brussels, Belgium

Europa Building

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE BORRELL:  Good morning.  I – this is going to be a very important council meeting.  We have with us the Secretary of State Tony Blinken.  We already have the ministers of United Kingdom and Canada and the Foreign Minister Kuleba, who will explain to us what is the situation in the ground.

Today, what we see is the ugly phase of war erupting again in our borders, and the Russians are bombing and shelling everything – hospitals, houses, schools, a lot of civilian casualties.  This is a barbarian way of doing war.  And the Human Rights Council will soon launch a mission in order to assess the violations of human rights which is happening in Ukrainian territory.

This is Putin’s war, and Putin has to stop this war.  We remain united.  We know that to ask for this war – stop – to stop and avoid killing of innocent people.  We are providing arms to Ukraine in order to let them defend their soil, their rights, their nation.  We are providing help to the refugees.  Already 1 million people have been crossing our borders, and happily, more will come.  We are putting sanctions that going to really affect the Russian economy, the value of its currency.  It’s going to be having massive effects, as we have already said before.

So sanctions, help the refugees, arms for the Ukrainian people to defend themselves, and stop the violations of human rights, and a strong unity among Europeans and with our partners, transatlantic partners on the NATO framework.  That’s – you are here.  Thank you very much for being with us.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you, my friend.  It’s hard for me to improve on anything that Josep said, but just to say a couple of things quickly.

First, when President Biden took office a little over a year ago, his first priority was to revitalize, re-energize our alliances and partnerships, starting with the European Union, because of our conviction that we have to be partners of first resort.  Virtually everything that we’re trying to do around the world that’s affecting the lives of our citizens, we’re more effective when we’re doing it together.  And we spent the last year actually making good on that commitment.  And it’s, I think, very, very instructive that now in a time of crisis, the investment that both of us have made in this relationship is proving how important it is, how vital it is.

What the European Union has done over the space of a couple of weeks is quite simply remarkable.  The speed with which it acted, the actions that it took, both with regard to sanctions and also support for Ukraine, are, I think it’s not an exaggeration to say, historic.  And it only further validates for us the importance of this partnership.  As Josep said, we are faced together with what is President Putin’s war of choice – unprovoked, unjustified – and a war that is having horrific, horrific consequences for real people, for mothers, for fathers, for children.  We see the images on TV and it has to stop.  We’re committed to doing everything we can to make it stop.

So the coordination between us is vital, but of course it’s beyond the United States and Europe. This is an aggression, a challenge, a threat that is relevant to the entire world, because what’s at risk first and foremost are literally the lives of Ukrainian men, women, and children.  But beyond that, the very fundamental principles that we’ve established together after two world wars that are so important to keeping peace and security for everyone, principles that President Putin is egregiously violating every single day: the notion that one country can’t simply go in and change the borders of another by force or take it over; the principle that one country can’t dictate to another the choices that its citizens would make about their future; the principle that we’re past the time of spheres of influence where one country subjugates its neighbors to its will – all of those things are at stake.  And if we allow those principles to be challenged, as Putin is doing now, with impunity, that will open a Pandora’s box of trouble for not just us, but quite frankly, for the entire world.  So the stakes are high, but because we’re doing this together, I am very confident that we’ll succeed.

I have to say, finally, the two of us have been working like this for many, many months.  And that collaboration, that partnership, that friendship, is also what makes a difference, and I’m really grateful for it.  Thank you.