U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to speak with his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, for the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.
In his statements, Blinken was clear about how the U.S. continues to view Moscow’s actions with respect to Ukraine.
“This week, President Putin’s war on Ukraine entered its sixth month. Costs continue to climb – thousands of civilians killed or wounded; 13 million Ukrainians forced to flee their homes; historic cities literally pounded into rubble; food shortages, skyrocketing food prices around the world – all this because President Putin was determined to conquer another country,” Blinken said.
“He’s failed in that goal. Ukraine has not and will not be conquered. It will remain sovereign and independent. As this war stretches on, the courage and strength of Ukraine’s military and its people become even more evident and even more extraordinary. They will do whatever it takes to protect their homes, their families, their fellow citizens, their country. The United States and our allies and partners will continue to stand with them and help provide precisely what they need to defend their freedom,” the U.S. secretary of state added.
Blinken aims to talk about the Ukrainian grain situation, which threatens to cause a global catastrophe. Before the war, more than 400 million people depended on Ukrainian grain and vegetable oils. But the Russian invasion and the naval blockade of Ukrainian ports have prevented Ukrainian ships from leaving port. Moreover, the ground war has prevented or frustrated the work of Ukrainian farmers, impacting their next harvest.
“I’ll also raise the matter of the tentative deal on grain exports that Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the United Nations reached last week. We hope this deal will swiftly lead to Ukrainian grain being shipped again through the Black Sea and that Russia will follow through on its pledge to allow those ships to pass,” Blinken added.
Prisoner Swap In The Works?
The White House is looking to swap two Americans held in Russia, Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, with Viktor Bout, a former Russian military intelligence officer who later became an arms dealer.
“In the coming days, I expect to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov for the first time since the war began. I plan to raise an issue that’s a top priority for us: the release of Americans Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, who have been wrongfully detained and must be allowed to come home. We put a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago to facilitate their release. Our governments have communicated repeatedly and directly on that proposal. And I’ll use the conversation to follow up personally and, I hope, move us toward a resolution,” Blinken said.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.