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Obama's Advisor Blinken: US were prepared to join Normandy Format - exclusive comments
12:14, 15 June 2017
Obama's Advisor Blinken: US were prepared to join Normandy Format - exclusive comments

Antony John Blinken, former United States Deputy Secretary of State and the former Deputy National Security Advisor for President Barack Obama, spoke to 112 Ukraine TV channel

12:14, 15 June 2017

112 Agency

Former United States Deputy Secretary of State and the former Deputy National Security Advisor for President Barack Obama Antony Blinken gave an exclusive interview for the journalist of 112 Ukraine TV channel Elina Beketova.

- Mr. Blinken, let's start with Russian interference with the American elections. The latest information that appeared in the media: Russian hackers attacked 39 states. Are there any chances that there will be such a system of cyber security that will make such cases impossible in the future?

- Well, we’re here today in Kyiv to discuss exactly that. This global cyber security summit is incredibly important. It’s the right issue at the right time. This is a problem that’s affecting countries around the world, not just the United States but of course Ukraine which perhaps was the number one victim of the cyber-attacks. We’re seeing two things. We’re seeing cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure, our energy systems, our banks, our hospitals. But we’re also seeing cyber-attacks on our mental and moral infrastructure, trying to influence what we think, what we believe, trying to undermine confidence in our institutions, in our leaders. That’s in some ways is even more dangerous. We’re going to talk about everything – all of that today and we’re going to look for solutions.

- What are the consequences of Russian interference with the US elections for the Trump administration?

- Well, this is a matter of investigation in the United States. That investigation should take its course and the facts will lead wherever they lead. But regardless of that, I think and certainly I hope that all of us, including my administration will take more seriously the threat posed by cyber-attacks coming from Russia and from other countries. It’s an effort, a very deliberate effort to undermine confidence in our institutions, confidence in our leaders, confidence in democracy. If we don’t stand up to that, don’t stop that, we’re going to have a really big problem.

Related: American media received top-secret report about cyber attacks by Russia’s military intelligence

- Discussions continue, in particular in American society, how likely is an impeachment of President Trump. Do you think this is possible?

- Look, there’s an investigation underway, the facts will lead wherever they lead. I hope all of this is cleared up as quickly as possible so that we can focus on the most important issues that are before us, including the threat posed cyber-attacks coming from Russia.

- Regarding the bill on the introduction of new sanctions against Russia. If sectoral sanctions are introduced, what will be the political and economic impact for the United States?

- Look, I think sustaining the sanctions is critically important for a simple reason: there is a way to end this horrible war in Ukraine and it’s the Minsk process as imperfect as it is. Unfortunately, Russia has chosen repeatedly not to implement its obligations under Minsk, nor to compel the separatists to implement their obligations so as a result sanctions need to remain in place until the process is complete. My strong hope would be that Russia would choose to take the path to end the conflict and there’s an easy way to do it: Minsk lays everything out. Until that happens the sanctions need to remain in place and whether there are additional sanctions with respect to Russia’s interference with our elections, - that’s a separate matter but also very important.

Related: Klimkin offers EU to add Ukraine to cyber strategy

- There is still no one who deals with the issue of Ukraine in the administration of President Trump. Like Victoria Nuland in the administration of President Obama. Who can become such a person and when will he / she appear?

- Well. I can’t speak for the administration but we have a very strong Ambassador of the United States in Ukraine, who’s very focused on this, her entire team is very focused on this. Actually I know the Secretary of State Tillerson has been focused on this so my hope is the administration will continue to strongly support the maintenance of sanctions, will try to engage Russia to implement its obligations under the Minsk agreement. And again, if it does, there’s a path forward, there’s a way out, but it really is up to Moscow to decide that it wants to end the conflict.

Related: Ten American cities call for Trump’s impeachment

- Speaking about the formats of negotiations on the Donbas, there is a Normandy Format, there are others. Will the United States be able to join one of them?

- Again, I can’t answer that since I’m not part of the administration, but I would hope that if our European partners like Germany and France would like us to be part of that process – we should be part of that process. And I think our voice can be an important voice and an effective voice. But that’s really up to the administration, to the Germans, to the French, the Ukrainians, to the Russians as well.

- That means, if Germany and France say, we need the United States, then America will agree?

- I hope so, I mean certainly during the Obama administration we were fully prepared to engage in that process if our European partners wanted us to… at that time, we more or less acted in parallel, we were engaged directly ourselves, the process was moving forward on its own track, but of course we talked all the time. But if the French and Germans think that it would be useful for us to be an integral part of the process, I think that would be a good thing, I hope we do it.

Related: OSCE: 45 civilian fatalities in Donbas since early 2017

- What can become a red line for this, escalation in Donbas?

- I think unfortunately we’ve already seen an escalation, I think the violence in the Donbas is going up, I’ve seen the numbers, it’s very very dangerous and any kind of misunderstanding, accident can provoke a larger conflict. People have to proceed with great caution, but the numbers have already gone up so I’m in concern and unfortunately the world’s attention has moved to other things. And then the separatists and Russians take advantage of that. I think we need to focus on what’s actually happening in the Donbas. People need to be energized to try to bring this conflict to an end.

- What are the priorities for the United States now: Syria or Ukraine?

- Oh, I think there are a number of priorities but certainly Syria is one. But I hope and believe that Ukraine will remain one. The good news is, the sanctions have been sustained, the Europeans continue to roll them over, the United States are supporting that effort and that’s very-very important. That’s what keeps the pressure on Russia - to do what it needs to do, to do the right thing.

- So sanctions can expand and deepen?

Related: America, Russia secretly negotiate on Syria safe zone, - WSJ

- Yes, I think that it’s marring. Because again, what’s really frustrating, and its frustrating first and foremost for Ukrainians to have to live with this every day is there’s a clear roadmap to end the conflict but Russia has chosen repeatedly not to follow that roadmap so I think the pressure should increase to get them to follow it.

- And the last question. Who are our allies in Senate and Congress like Biden and McCain now?

- Oh, there’s a very strong support for Ukraine in the United States Senate and in the House, starting with people like John McCain, like Lindsey Graham, like the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee Corker, Ben Cardin, the senior democrat. So there’s very strong support for Ukraine and that’s not going away.

Related: Ukraine raised hostage-related issues during Normandy talks in Berlin

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