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tv   State Department Spokesperson Holds Briefing  CSPAN  February 28, 2022 2:16pm-2:49pm EST

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corners. this is probably the worst thing that putin could do on a human scale because of the human toll, but it's also the worst thing he could have done for his regime. this certainly spells the beginning of the end. [applause] we should learn from our ukrainian partners, our ukrainian friends. they have their own divisions of sorts. language divisions, minor cultural divisions, different beliefs on perspectives, but they are now all united in defense of democracy, in the defense of their homeland. we should learn from the example of stka len -- zelensky. also a modest group. a comedian, entertainer. we thank several allies and partners who have joined us to
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expedite additional security assistance to ukraine. we welcome more contributions from all allies and partners to give ukrainians the support they need to defend themselves against russian aggression and provide the assistance to the people of ukraine. we are also heartened that ukraine's neighbors continue to keep borders opened to those seeking international protection and we are urging all countries to allow unimpeded entry and access to all those fleeing violence. we are engaging closely with the u.n. agencies on the grounds to ensure that every single person crossing into neighboring countries is received equally and protection assistance their circumstances require. we are encouraging countries in the region to adhere to their refugee obligations and principle of non-- in support of ukraine's urgent humanitarian needs, we announce the additional provision as i'm sure you saw of nearly $54 million in humanitarian assistance to those affected by the russian government's invasion. this additional assistance
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jointly provided by the department of state and the u.s. agency for international development will enable international humanitarian organizations to further support the people of ukraine. the united states stands in solidarity with and will continue to support the government and people of ukraine in the face of russia's unprovoked aggression. one final note, as you saw over the weekend, we have advised american citizens to consider departing russia immediately on those commercial options still avrabellable. this morning the secretary announced our beemcy in moscow has authorized the voluntary departure of employees and family members. to be clear this is not a retaliatory measure. we deem them necessary because of the safety and security issues resulting from russia's unprovoked attack on ukraine. one other element before we get to your questions. today the united states joins the united nations human rights council at the council's 49th regular session.
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the u.s. returned to that body fulfills a pledge made by president biden and reflects the centrality of human rights to our country's foreign policy. the timing of this session could not be more tune -- opportune. since the opening moments of russia's premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on ukraine, reports of human rights abuses have been widespread. let there be no confusion. russia attacked ukraine because ukraine dared to pursue a democratic path. just today the human rights council voting overwhelmingly in support of ukraine's request to hold an urgent debate later this week on thursday about human rights abuses in ukraine. on march 1, secretary blinken will deliver remarks to assembled council members and use that opportunity to spell out clearly the threat phoezed by russia while noting that ukraine is car from the only part of the world where the council's attention is needed on an urgent basis. u.s. permanent representative to
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the united nations and other international organizations in geneva crocker will head the u.s. delegation at this session supported by recently confirmed ambassador to the human rights council taylor. with that i'll turn to questions. reporter: thanks, doug. i have a couple but they'll be brief. the first one is logistics. when you say human rights council, you guys were on the council to vote in favor of having this meeting on ukraine? is that correct? >> that's my understanding. reporter: all right. it's being called an urgent meeting. urgency is in the eye of the beholder here. the french announced this morning they were shutting up shop in kyiv and moving. i just wanted to check on the
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status of the operations. is it still the case that there is nobody there for the u.s. they are all operating out of poland. >> as of last week the small team that transferred to la sraoefrb had transferred to poland for the course of several days. they were making regular trips into ukraine from the onset of this phase of the russian -- from poland into ukraine. from the onset of this phase of russia's unjustified premeditated, unprotphoebgd assault on ukraine. they have not been commuting back into ukraine. reporter: this is for other countries, do you know how many partner em-- embassies of partners or allies remain open in kyiv? >> i don't have those figures available. of course we coordinate closely
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with our allies and partners. we have shared with them the reasons for our relocation of operations and subsequent to that our relocation of operations into poland. i don't have a tally. reporter: last one. on the diplomacy front in terms of what's going on, particularly in new york. are there any countries that you are especially peeved with for how they have voted thus far, or made decisions to sponsor or not to co-sponsor or not co-sponsor -- >> there is one that comes to mind. of course the resolution in the u.n. security council would have been adopted by the u.n. security council were it not for russia's decision to use a veto. russia was forced to use its veto because countries either voted in favor or abstained on that measure. reporter: i wasn't talking about
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russia. other than russia which was to be expected. you say you are happy with the way the rest of the world has come out and made their voices -- >> we are comfortable. we are heartened. we are gratified by the fact that the world, international community has stood up to speak loudly and clearly in defense of ukraine's sovereignty of independence, territorial integrity. the u.n. security council resolution as you know would have been adopted were it not for the russian veto. our team at the u.n. also worked with our close a.m. leighs -- allies and partners to garner some signatures within the u.n. general assembly for this very resolution. well beyond the members of the u.n. security council permanent and rotating, that voted in favor of this, scores of countries around the world signed on to this in one way or
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another. many more on top of that have voiced their clear, unambiguous opposition to what the russian federation is doing, what the russian federation has sought to do. reporter: to follow up. are you heartened and gratified by india abstaining and -- >> rather than focus on specific countries. we have heard -- of course. we have a close relationship with india. we have discussed our concerns, our shared concerns -- reporter: have you discussed in the aftermath of the vote? >> we have regular engagement with our indian partners. we have regular engagement with our emiratey partners. with our european allies and partners. at every level we have had discussion abouts this. reporter: on the nuclear thing. the assumption earlier today they said they concluded that russia is rather unlikely to use its nuclear weapons against --
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does the united states share that assessment? >> i am not going to prognosticate from here. i do know what the russians have said very clearly, including in recent months. we have long agreed, the united states and the russian federation, that nuclear use would have devastating, devastating consequences. we have stated that many times. including earlier this year in the aftermath of the summit meeting that president putin had with president biden in geneva. it was in the aftermath of that engagement that our two countries again came out with a joint statement reatpeurplting -- reaffirming something we have said since the cold war. a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. that is something russian federation has signed on. something we certainly believe. it is a principle that we must protect and preserve. >> that was a while ago. then they invaded -- do you
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think that they are still within that understanding? are there indications similar to what the swiss are getting they are not going to follow through -- >> clearly this is provocative rhetoric. we share the opinion with our partners and allies around the world that this sort of provocative rhetoric more than being unnecessary, it is dangerous. it adds to the risk of miscalculation. it should be avoided. we are assessing president putin's directive at this time, as i think you have heard us say. we see no reason to change our own alert levels. this gets back to the broader point. throughout this crisis while russia was manufacturing it and now that we are in the midst of this unjustified, premeditated, unphroe sroebgd invasion --
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unprovoked invasion, we have seen the russian federation, putin himself consistently tried to turn the tables by falsely alleging that it is russia that is under threat. that russia faced a threat from ukraine. that russia faced a threat from a defensive alliance. that russia was the one that had no choice but to wage a brutal, premeditated, unprovoked, unjustified war against its neighbor. neither we nor nato nor ukraine nor any other country has any desire or intention for conflict with russia. at the same time we are unwavering in our commitment to extended derememberrence and confident -- deterrence and confident in our ability to did he fend ourselves and our allies. our commitment to article 5 is just as strong today as it was at nato's founding more than 70
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years ago. reporter: sky news. thanks. first of all, can you give us any sense of what you are reading as to what president putin meant yesterday. is he talking about battlefield nuclear weapons. or was he talking about something even more frightening? that's my first question. >> i don't think it is wise or responsible for me to try to interpret, read into what president putin might have been signaling, trying to signal. again, we think that this type of rhetoric is provocative. it is profoundly unhelpful. and it is at its core dangerous. we think it should be avoided. >> follow-up. what is your state of mind how are you accessing that assessment? are conversations like that with israel yesterday and ma kron, are they helpful?
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what are the lines of communications to work out what's going on in his head? >> we are going to judge the russian federation, we are going to judge putin by his actions. and clearly his actions in recent days have justified and given us cause to justify precisely what we said we would do in the run-up to this unprovoked invasion of ukraine. president putin, his cronies, the kremlin, those around him they are facing the unprecedented set of economic and financial measures just as we promised. not based on rhetoric, not based on threats alone, but based on their actions. when it comes our engagement, look, clearly our relationship with russia and the world's relationship with russia is different today than it was last week or than it was before this
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unprovoked crisis began late last year. but we still believe in diplomacy. we know that diplomacy is the only responsible, sustainable means by which to end this conflict. it is precisely why we are supporting our ukrainian partners as they engage in those talks. other countries around the world have continued to engage with the russian federation. if we need to engage with the russian federation, we have the ability to do so ourselves. whether it is through the state department. whether it is through the defense department. whether it is through any other channel we have with the russian federation. reporter: the hraoeupbts are opened in terms of with defense or state? >> we have maintained deconflick shun channels with the russian federation for a decade now. we think that the ability to communicate clearly is in some ways even more important during times of crisis and conflict, as
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we are in now, than it would otherwise would be. yes. reporter: one more question on the nuclear derememberrent ahe -- deter rent to this. what has happened to russia's nuclear arsenal since putin said they would put their nuclear forces on alert. >> we are not in a position to characterize anything the russians might have do. you have to ask them if president putin's rhetoric was matched by any action. we have had no change in our posture. we don't judge there is any need for a change. >> then after the talks today between the ukrainians and the russians, they announced that they have another round in a few days, do you have a response to that? do you think that the continuation of talks is any reflection of how russia feels about its military advances in ukraine? >> as i said before, we support
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ukraine in its efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to this conflict. ukraine sought before the onset of this invasion to do just that. the united states sought before the onset of this invasion to do just that. our allies in europe sought before this invasion to do just that. the osce sought to do just that. the nato russia council sought to do just that. at every turn the russian federation rejected those offers of somebody standive -- substantive constructive engagement. now that invasion, we are in the midst of an invasion, we have heard this very message from president zelensky, the foreign minister. we would be ripe to color us skeptical of what it is that moscow intends. what we have said before, including last week, applies equally today. diplomacy at the barrel of a
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gun. diplomacy at the turret of a tank. that is not real diplomacy. we are ready and willing just as our ukrainian partners are, just as our european allies are to engage in real, in substantive, in genuine diplomacy in order to see if we can find a way out of what is a needless, brutal conflict. but that diplomacy is highly unlikely to bear fruit to prove effective in the midst of not only confrontation, but escalation. well before the invasion started we made the point that we were all for diplomacy. but in order for it to bear fruit it needed to take place in the context of de-escalation. that is in some ways even more true now. we are supportive of ukrainians engaging with russian
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counterparts. we are offering, as you know, the foreign minister had an opportunity yesterday to convene with the g-7 ministers, president biden has had an opportunity to in recent days -- president zelensky has had an opportunity in recent days to president biden. secretary blinken has had several conversations with the foreign minister on a bilateral basis. so we are comparing notes. we are coordinating closely. and we are supportive knowing what we all assume are the limitations on diplomacy in the present context. it is precisely what foreign minister and president zelensky have spoken to. we share a sense of skepticism, but at the same time we want to exhaust every potentially viable diplomatic avenue. yes. reporter: the negotiations between the russian and ukrainian delegation this
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morning. have you -- has the state department had an idea or read-in or talking to ukrainians about how that went? if they are optimistic or not? are you optimistic there will be more talks in the coming days? what happens in the next few days. >> i'm sure we will have a read out from our ukrainian partners in short order. as you know the talks only recently concluded for the day before i came out here. we had high level engagement with our ukrainian partners over the weekend. late last week. our shared approach in some ways our shared skepticism is something we discussed in private is also something our ukrainian partners have discussed publicly just as we have. i am sure in the coming hours we will be hearing with and speaking with our ukrainian partners. as for the next steps, we are supportive of what our ukrainian partners deem to be in their best interest. they will find a partner in the
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united states going forward in this effort. reporter: i want to follow up on the location of the talks along the belarusian border and what your assessment is on belarus' participation in the peace talks or potentially the conflict? >> what will i say generally about belarus is that they and president lukashenko have allowed president putin to make a mockery of belarus' independence, of its purported sovereignty. that has been the case for some time now. as russia forces have flooded in to belarus. as russian forces have staged inside what should be sovereign belarusian territory to undertake premeditated, unjustified, unprotphoebgd attack and invasion dunn dunn unprovoked attack and invasion of a third country.
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all the while the regime continues to brutally repress the democratic aspirations of the people of belarus. it has as i said before become increasingly subservient to russia. demonstrating again president luka kh*epbgo's willingness -- lukashenko's willingness to act against the interest of his own people in order to curry favor with moscow and to stay in power. as a result of the regime's indefensible support for and even facilitation of what we are seeing the russians do in ukraine, we are imposing sanctions. we have imposed sanctions on some two dozen belarusian individuals and entities. these actions focus on belarus' defense and related material and finance sectors. two fields that are closely tied to russia. reporter: do you think they'll escalate their participation in the conflict? you say they are already facilitating it. >> it is not for me to try to
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predict what belarus might do, might seek to do, or more importantly what moscow might impose on belarus to do. we have seen at every turn that president lukashenko has setaside, cast aside the will of his own people. and cast his lot with president putin and his militaristic aims against ukraine. so if that continues, belarus will continue to face measures of profound accountability. reporter: what communications has the u.s. government had with russia over the past 48 hours or even since the secretary canceled the talks? on the treasury side, on the defense side, the state side. >> i wouldn't want to characterize every element of
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engagement, but, again, we believe that in times of crisis we believe that lines of communication are in some ways even more important. we have continued to engage the russian federation. there are issues that are of bilateral interest to us, our staffing posture in moscow is one such issue. delivering notices to marches is something we continue to have the ability to do. it is something we are able to do out of our emif acy in moscow. i am not aware of any high level engagement since the secretary informed secretary foreign minister last week that we did not deem this context to be appropriate or conducive for diplomacy. for the meeting that was to have taken place in geneva last thursday. again, if we need to convey a high level message to the russian federation or the lower level message to the russian
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federation, we have the ability to do that. >> was that done over -- after president putin's statement or his nuclear posture? >> has there been tphapblgment in the past 24 hours? i couldn't speak to whether there's been contact within the past 24 hours. there have been recent engagements on areas in our national interest. that includes issues of our staffing presence in moscow. reporter: one follow-up. the ukrainians have been asking for months and months for even more -- even better weaponry than the u.s. has been supplying them. especially for stinger rockets which can take down aircraft. is the u.s. supplying stinger missiles to ukraine? >> we have over the past year committed more than $1 billion in security assistance to ukraine. that includes the $350 million that secretary blinken signed
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out over the weekend. it includes the $200 million that president biden authorized and signed out in december. it includes the $60 million that was signed out and committed with the visit of president zelensky last year. we are not in a position to detail every element of that security assistance. what i can say is that it includes supplies that are effective when it comes to anti-armor, anti-aircraft, small arms, munitions. this is a discussion we have had at many levels on a consistent basis with our ukrainian partners to determine precisely what their security, their defensive security needs are. the provision of our defensive security assistance is calibrated precisely to those needs. i should add that the $200 million that was authorized by president biden in december that
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we have not yet spent all that money. so there was never a pause in the delivery of our security assistance. secretary blinken authorized this additional $350 million knowing and consistent with what president biden said prior to the russian invasion. that if russia were to invade ukraine, not only would our security assistance continue, but we would double down on it. we have made good on that pledge as well. reporter: 12 russian u.n. diplomats ordered by the united states to leave by march 7. can you confirm and talk about it? >> i don't have anything to offer there. i haven't seen these headlines. reporter: are you not aware? >> i haven't seen a headline that just came out before i took the podium. reporter: just one more -- >> i can't speak to something i haven't seen. reporter: one more thing on the recent engagement, you said there wasn't a high level one.
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russia's foreign minister said russia complained to the u.s. ambassador to moscow over what is described as hostile protests near its diplomatic facilities. from their read out i understand that john sullivan was in a meeting with the russians in moscow. they also discussed other bilateral issues. can you talk about what was discussed? did you get any indication from this meeting that russians may want to talk about any diplomatic path? >> i indicated before our embassy in moscow continues to have the ability to engage with our russian counterparts on issues that are of interest to us. ambassador sullivan has continued to engage at his level. we have not had high level engagements from secretary blinken, deputy secretary sherman from the department here. of course even with the announcement of today's authorized departure of nonemergency employees and eligible family members, we
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still have americans on the ground in moscow. their safety, their security is of paramount importance to us. the ambassador often does engage with russian counterparts pertaining to that and will continue to. reporter: follow up on that. to be absolutely clear. the russians in new york are saying you have expelled or asked 12 u.n. diplomats, russian diplomats, to leave the united states. are you saying you don't -- can't comment on that? you don't know about it? >> i don't have those details in front of me. this apparently just came out. reporter: but can you react to it? is it accurate? >> i'm not going to react to something that has just come out while i am up -- while i have been up here. reporter: suggest that this is part of the ongoing -- it is not related to ukraine. this is part of the ongoing spat over diplomatic staffing.
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in which you have said that you have told russians who are -- who have been here, diplomats in the u.s., who have been here longer than threers did -- >> we have been clear about the three-year piece of validity. the watch word for us is parity. we want to see diplomatic parity between our mission in moscow and what the russians maintain here. reporter: my question, i'm not just saying that to say it, my question is, does that parity include -- obviously the russians have more people here because you are the host of the u.n. they have a mission up there. whereas you have a mission in new york, too. but they are americans. are the diplomats who are -- russian diplomats posted to new york considered part of -- when you talk about parity, are they considered part that have? >> when we talk about our bilateral missions tip will i we refer to our embassy in moscow. and --
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reporter: not the mission in new york. >> typically when we talk about it our bilateral missions. reporter: that would suggest this is something different than the parity -- >> i'm sure we'll have more to say on this later today. anything else? >> if you and other officials have remarked lately how desaoeurt russian's -- bizarre the russian president's speeches have been. and now we see him issuing nuclear threats. i wonder do you still consider him an actor. on the sanctions that were announced today, do you have any parameters for when you can stand down from those? >> i don't think it's useful, productive, or even possible for me to try to get into president
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putin's head. certainly not something i would want to do from here. what matters to us are the actions of the russian federation. again, if rhetoric materializes into action that threatens our -- directly threatens our allies or the united states, as you have heard from the president we will respond rest routely. we will respond decisively. our commitment to article 5 is sang row sapbgt. our commitment to our allies is unwavering. that will remain the case. when it comes to the sanctions, your question was how do we climb down from this? first, our goal has been to climb up because of what the russian federation has done. we were clear that if russia were to pursue this path, the cost would be profound. and i think you have seen that. everyone is familiar or everyone, i assume everyone is
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familiar with the steps that we have taken as recently as this morning. as recently as the weekend. on friday. so i won't go through that entire litany. what might be more productive is to speak to the implications of some of those measures. we have seen the russian economy anti-russian -- and the russian financial system react as we might have expected. to the severity and scale of these measures. the ruble has fallen about 20%. and it's trading at its weakest -- >> c-span's more than 40 year commitment to live gavel to gavel coverage we leave this to take you live to the house. considering a number of bills today including legislation to outlaw discrimination based on hairstyle or texture. and another that would make lynching a hate crime. recognition? mr. perlmutter: mr. speaker, good to see you. i move the house suspend the rules and pass the bill s.321, the six


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