CNN anchor Dana Bash questioned Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a Sunday morning interview, asking why President Joe Biden seemed content to allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to make the first move with regard to Ukraine.
Bash hosted Blinken on Sunday’s broadcast of “State of the Union,” and she pressed him on the fact that the Biden administration had thus far opted not to impose economic sanctions on Russia despite Putin’s continued posturing and a number of indicators that suggested he might be preparing to invade Ukraine.
“Ukrainian President Zelensky is calling for the U.S. and others, Europeans, to put sanctions in place now, to do it proactively, not reactively. He said, quote, ‘Today our partners are saying that war may start tomorrow if there was a powerful escalation on the Russian side and then there will be powerful sanctions applied.’ The question is why are you not introducing sanctions now rather than waiting until after the escalation. What’s your answer to that?” Bash asked.
“First of all, Dana, as I said, we are not waiting. We are doing a lot right now,” Blinken insisted, saying that the United States was “taking the lead” on coordinating what he said would be “massive consequences” that would be implemented if Russia were to make a move against Ukraine in the coming days or weeks.
“In Ukraine we’re providing — and last year alone provided more military assistance to Ukraine than any year in the past. We’ve been going against those inside Ukraine trying to destabilize the government. We’re taking concrete action,” Blinken continued.
“But you’re not imposing the sanctions?” Bash pressed.
“When it comes to sanctions, the purpose of those sanctions is to deter Russian aggression. So if they’re triggered now, you lose the deterrent effect,” Blinken argued, saying that the coordination between the U.S. and European countries was “designed to factor into President Putin’s calculus and deter and dissuade them from taking aggressive action even as we pursue diplomacy at the same time.”
Blinken joined White House press secretary Jen Psaki in their efforts to clean up President Biden’s comments from his Wednesday press conference, during which he appeared to suggest that the United States would only respond to a Russian incursion against Ukraine if it reached a certain threshold.
As The Daily Wire reported:
“I want to be very clear. The president has conveyed directly to President Putin if there is a movement of any military troops across the border, that is an invasion,” Psaki replied, going on to say that in the event of an actual invasion the United States would respond with “severe economic consequences.”
“If they go in, that is an invasion, and there will be severe economic consequences. I know President Zelensky knows that, and we’ve conveyed that,” Psaki continued. “There are a range of tactics the Russians use and have been warning about some of those steps including the spreading of misinformation out there, which has been widespread, was widespread in 2014, the use of cyber tools and we are also going to be ready to respond to that as well, and we will be working in lock step with Ukraine.”