“We’ve seen no sign to date that President Putin is serious about meaningful negotiations,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
While the United States would support Ukrainian efforts to end the war diplomatically, Blinken said: “Our purpose is to make sure that they have within their hands the ability to repel the Russian aggression and, indeed, to strengthen their hand at an eventual negotiating table.”
Blinken was responding to a question from Senator Rand Paul, a Republican critical of US interventionism, who accused President Joe Biden of contributing to Putin’s decision to invade by “beating the drums to admit Ukraine to NATO.”
The top US diplomat responded that, in talks with Russia ahead of the February 24 invasion, it became clear that Putin’s complaints about Ukraine entering the Western alliance were a pretext.
“We sought to engage them on those issues in real seriousness,” Blinken said.
“It is abundantly clear — in President Putin’s own words — that this was never about Ukraine being potentially part of NATO and it was always about his belief that Ukraine does not deserve to be a sovereign, independent country.”