SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good afternoon, everyone. Very good to see folks here. And to those I haven’t had a chance to say this to, Happy New Year.
This morning, NATO’s North Atlantic Council met to discuss our coordinated response to Russia’s military buildup along the Ukraine border and its increasingly sharp threats and inflammatory rhetoric.
I want to thank NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg for bringing us together.
As he said in his own press conference a short while ago, Russia’s aggressive actions are a threat to peace and security in Europe.
We’re prepared to respond forcefully to further Russian aggression.
But a diplomatic solution is still possible and preferable, if Russia chooses it.
That’s what we, together with our allies and partners, will continue to pursue intently next week at the Strategic Stability Dialogue between the United States and Russia, and at the meetings of the NATO-Russia Council and the OSCE, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Ahead of these urgent discussions, let’s be clear about how we got to this moment.
In 2014, the Ukrainian people chose a democratic and European future for themselves. Russia responded by manufacturing a crisis and invading.
Ever since, Russia has occupied Ukraine’s territory in Crimea and has orchestrated a war in the eastern part of Ukraine – with proxies that it leads, trains, supplies, and finances – that has killed nearly 14,000 people and redrawn Ukraine’s borders by force.
Beyond its military aggression, Moscow has also worked to undermine Ukraine’s democratic institutions.
It’s interfered in Ukraine’s politics and elections; it’s blocked energy and commerce to intimidate its leaders and pressure its citizens; it’s used propaganda and disinformation to sow mistrust; it’s launched cyber-attacks on the country’s critical infrastructure.
Then, starting last March and continuing through the fall, Russia began a massive, unprovoked buildup of military forces and equipment on Ukraine’s border – nearly 100,000 troops today, with plans to mobilize twice that number on very short order.
So how does Moscow explain its actions?
It claims that Ukraine is threatening Russia.