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tv   State Department Spokesperson Holds Briefing  CSPAN  April 15, 2022 2:00am-2:56am EDT

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c-span is america's network. unfiltered, unbiased, word for word, it happens here, or here, or here, or anywhere that matters. americans are watching on c-span. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2022] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] your friend proceed washington anytime, anywhere. announcer: state department spokesman net price break reporters today on rush's invasion on ukraine as well as diplomatic efforts in south korea, iran, pakistan, and afghanistan. >> good afternoon.
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a couple announcements at the top, and then we will turn to your questions. you may have seen yesterday the cdc announced changes to their covid-19 travel health notice system. we at the department of state have reassessed how covid-19 considerations factor into our travel advisory levels for u.s. citizens. starting next week, the state department travel advisory levels will no longer automatically correlate with the cdc travel health notice level. however, if the cdc raises the country to a level 44 covid-19, or if covid-19 related restrictions threaten to isolate or otherwise seriously affect u.s. citizens, the state department travel advisory for that country will also be raised to a level four. the updated framework will significantly reduce the level of travel four advisories, and we believe it will help u.s. citizens make better informed decisions about the safety of international travel at this time.
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we encourage you citizens planning national travel to check their passport expiration dates, acting out to renew or apply for the first time. keep in mind, many countries require passports to have six months remaining validity for entry. routine passport processing can take 8 to 11 weeks. we encourage citizens to stay connected with us through our social media accounts and to enroll in a smart traveler enrollment program to receive timely alerts about evolving health and safety conditions it finally today, the u.s. department of state released our first ever equity action plan to implement executive order 1398 five on advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities to the federal government. we joined 90 federal agencies across the u.s. government. this plan is the product of
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president biden's historic executive order directing federal agencies to address barriers to opportunity for underrepresented and underserved communities. our equity action plan outlines commitments, actions, and accountability mechanisms to improve our effectiveness in successfully integrating equity across our foreign affairs work. with that, happy to take your questions. >> russia warned it would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles if finland and sweden join nato. are you concerned about the upping of rhetoric? >> the warning came from a former russian official who is no longer in power and arguably may not have been in power at the time he reportedly was in power. we do not have a specific response to that. the russian federation knows where we stand in terms of our commitment to article five. the commitment that an attack on
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one is an attack on all. we do not have a specific response. >> [indiscernible] our u.s. embassy staff telecommuting from poland to lviv? >> a number of weeks ago just before the start of the invasion a court mission ukraine team previously working from live eve -- lviv remain in poland to. they are not currently traveling over the border to ukraine due to the unstable security situation. i will say however we are constantly evaluating and reevaluating the safety and security situation. it is our goal to have a diplomatic presence reestablished in ukraine as soon
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as it would be safe and practical to have u.s. diplomats on the ground there, but i would also hasten to add the lack of a u.s. diplomatic presence, u.s. officials in ukraine has in no way hampered our ability to coordinate and consult with our ukrainian partners. in fact, just today secretary blinken at an opportunity to speak over the phone to the foreign minister, the same foreign minister we saw last week in brussels, the same foreign minister secretary blinken sanchez before that in warsaw, the same foreign minister you saw just before that inside ukraine. when we met with the foreign minister and his team along the polish-ukrainian border. of course, president biden spoke to president zelenskyy yesterday. secretary often speaks with his counterpart. the point is, our engagement has
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been consistent, routine to discuss precisely the issues are of most importance to us, we can continue to support our ukrainian partners and how we can continue to hold the kremlin to account for its illegal war of aggression against the state and people of ukraine. >> [indiscernible] >> i do not have any trouble to speak to. secretary blinken has the opportunity to speak to his ukrainian counterparts. he ends up speaking to the foreign minister several times a week and we have ended up seeing the foreign minister in person as well. >> you spoke about diplomatic
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presence in ukraine. any update on the diplomatic presence in russia? are you guys in contact with question ambassadors? >> that is the point of our diplomatic presence in russia and around the world, to be in contact with the host government. we do have a functioning embassy in moscow, and that is where sullivan is as are ambassador sullivan's deputies and partners in regular contact with russian counterparts on issues of bilateral interest. we have spoken not only in recent months but throughout the course of this administration about the unfortunate actions that the russian federation has taken that limits our diplomatic presence on the ground in russia. in terms of the level of
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diplomatic staffing we are able to have in our embassy in russia , our embassy in moscow and what the russians have here in the united states. we believe that diplomatic relationship, the ability to communicate clearly, effectively and often times frankly is unimportant -- is important at all times but especially in the case of increased entrance -- tensions. >> the general is on the ground in ukraine. is the u.s. sharing information with the icc on potential war crimes and is the u.s. doing its own assessment of whether atrocities like genocide and war crimes have taken place in ukraine? >> i believe there is a misimpre ssion about the process involved here. i think specifically there is a
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misimpression that the department would require a demand signal or an order from on high to undertake a careful review of what is transpiring on the ground in ukraine. to be clear, there is a constant demand signal, including from secretary blinken for insight into potential atrocities or atrocity crimes committed around the world, and as a matter of course our office of global criminal justice and colleagues and experts from the department are carefully reviewing all of the inputs that are available to us regarding what is transpiring in ukraine. that includes a very public data points that all of us have seen across our television screens, that we have read in newspaper, but it also includes details from intelligence reporting as well. to get to the first part of your question, our priority at the moment is pursuing
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accountability for atrocity crimes, and we are supporting the efforts of various accountability mechanisms, including the efforts of the ukrainian prosecutor general, whose work we have assisted since long before russia's current campaign began. we have been assisting this work for the better part of a decade now. as you may know, and i mentioned this yesterday, our ambassador at large for global criminal justice is going to have an engagement, she is going to engage virtually with the ukrainian prosecutor general who is leading in efforts when it comes to criminal accountability for what has already transpired in ukraine. that will take place tomorrow. let me hasten to add, that same broader process, the process to collect, analyze, share, document evidence of atrocities and potential atrocity crimes is
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the very same one that could ultimately inform other potential atrocity crime determinations, including the atrocity crime of genocide. as you know, at the department has already assessed that members of russia's forces have committed war crimes, one of the three forms of atrocity crimes. and other atrocity crimes. to reiterate, there is a constant demand signal in this building for that work for a few reasons. it helps us shine a spotlight on these atrocities, it helps us bring the world together in our diplomatic campaign in support of our ukrainian partners and the diplomatic campaign to hold russia to account and to craft our public messaging, and how we speak about what is transpiring in ukraine, and when it comes to all of those elements, we will follow the facts, we will follow the law wherever they lead. >> are you currently sharing
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information with the icc? >> we are in the first instance supporting the work of ukrainian prosecutor general, because there is a very clear jurisdiction in terms of her work for potentially holding were criminals accountable for the atrocity crimes they have committed. we are consulting very closely with allies and partners about potential other accountability mechanisms. in fact, we have helped one accountability mechanism as part of our re-engagement with the un's human rights council, helped to establish the commission of inquiry that is now focused on this as well. the moscow mechanism come at the first report of which was issued yesterday we are supporting. when it comes to the icc, we know that the icc is one potential venue for accountability. we have cooperated with the icc
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in the past. i mentioned this yesterday, within recent days the trial of a former commander as begun at the hague under the offices of icc. that individual is being tried in part based upon evidence that the department of state ourselves collected for his role in the genocidal campaign a regime carried out a number of years ago. we are consulting very closely with allies and partners first and foremost to the mechanisms and jurisdictions that will help us see the ultimate goal of accountability achieved. >> [indiscernible] the taliban continued its policies to not allow afghan girls to go to school. what will be the steps of the state department? [indiscernible]
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they cannot travel without their kids. [indiscernible] they do not get any response from the state department. [indiscernible] >> nothing could be further from the truth as you know. we have continued to stand by the people of afghanistan in terms of our communitarian leadership, and the contributions that we have made including in recent days to the humanitarian needs of the afghan
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people, but also in terms of what we are doing diplomatically on the world stage together with our allies and partners, and you raised the issue of girl's education. the egregious decision last month, march 23, what was supposed to be the first day of the school year for schoolchildren, including girls across the country turned into a day of horrible disappointment and despair for millions of afghans with the taliban's very regrettable decision not to allow girls to return to secondary school. in doing so the taliban reversed commitments that they had made a very publicly and commitments that we had discussed with them privately as well. their decision, as i mentioned before, it was a deeply disappointing one. isome ways an
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inexplicable reversal of commitments that they had made to their own people. we made the point previously that education is not only a human right, but it is indispensable to the success of any particular country. holding back more than half of any country's population is not a recipe for success for afghanistan or anywhere else around the world. no country can succeed economically. no country can succeed politically. no country can succeed on any basis when half of its population are more than half of its population is unable to go to school, ultimately able to join the workforce. together with our partners in the international community, we have been working for some time and we continue to work to
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support education in afghanistan, expecting that schools last month would have opened for all. we have called on the taliban to overcome whatever impediments exist to implementing the commitments they have made, to honor the commitments they have made to their own people. each day secondary schools remain close to girls is another best day of school, another missed opportunity not only for the girls of afghanistan but for the people in the country of afghanistan. the secretary -- the deputy secretary, our special representative for afghanistan, our special envoy who is now based in doha, they have all decried this decision on the part of the taliban. we have also done so in
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coordination with many of our close partners around the world. shortly after the taliban announced this decision, we released a joint statement with our counterparts in canada, france, germany, italy, norway, u.k. and our representatives of the european union all condemning the decision on the part of the taliban not to reopen secondary schools. the organization of islamic cooperation similarly put out a statement as well as female foreign ministers from at least 16 countries around the world from albania to tonga. this was a discussion tom west attended late last month. china, and we have been very clear, if this decision is not reversed and it is not reversed promptly it will hold significant, serious
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applications for our ability to engage with the taliban and the taliban's desire to have better relations not only with the united states but with the international community. yes? >> [indiscernible] was the state department given a heads up before their visit? what is the message the u.s. is sending to taiwan and china? >> i do not have a comment on the congressional delegation. i would need to refer you to members of congress. the state department does assist members of congress as a routine matter often times when they travel overseas, but if her comments on this particular visit i would need to refer you to those members. >> the deputy secretary met with the who director general.
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how helpful is the united states that taiwan will be invited to the world health assembly in may? >> it is something that we support, that we have consistently supported. we believe taiwan consistent with its status should have meaningful participation in international organizations, so it is something we will continue to support. >> i have a couple of questions on the palestinian issue. [indiscernible] does that mean there is a marked change? do you have evidence this was done in a coordinated fashion? >> i do not have any additional
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information for you on that. as you know, our officials on the ground too often engage with israelis, palestinians. >> the other question is a newspaper reported the u.s. will expand its cooperation between israel and [indiscernible] >> you saw what secretary blinken attended with several of his counterparts from israel and the arab world, and there was a focus during the course of that ministerial on the abraham accords and the normalization agreements that have built bridges at about new opportunities for israelis and
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arabs alike with normalization becoming in some ways the new normal and the opportunities that come with that, but what we heard during the ministerial itself and what you heard during the press availability that the ministers participated in was a recognition on the part of secretary blinken, on the part of others that normalization cannot be a substitute for progress between israelis and palestinians. as israel and its arab neighbors enjoy additional opportunities owing to the progress that normalization is bringing with it, there was a concerted desire on the part of secretary blinken on the part of his arab counterparts, on the part of the foreign minister of israel to do what we can across several areas, working groups emanating
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from the foreign to achieve -- four-run -- forum to achieve progress when it comes to conditions of the palestinian people. >> [indiscernible] my question pertains to the human rights organizations that have been listed as terrorist organizations. [indiscernible] where do we stand? have you gotten a satisfactory response from the israelis? >> we have received detailed information on that very question from our is greatly -- is really -- israeli partners --
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>> they have committed such egregious acts. >> we have received detailed information from apartments on the basis for their investigation. we are taking a close look at this ourselves. >> [indiscernible] >> all of our sanctions remain in effect and all of our sanctions will remain in effect until and unless we are able to achieve a mutual return to compliance with the jcpoa. it has been a very unfortunate to see a number of stories that are false, that are completely
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untrue not only on the questions of sanctions or reported sanctions but the related question and the weight that it is been conflated of false claims of a deal. the fact is, unfortunately we do not have any breakthrough to announce, any information relating to our negotiations regarding americans who are held wrongfully in around -- iran would come directly from the state department. there is been a lot of false information out there. we encourage everyone to exercise caution with these reports, but the fact is now that there are two parallel tracks that are underweight with iran. when we talk about in the context of the four mutual return to full implementation of the jcpoa and one on the release
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of all u.s. citizens who are unjustly held in iran. unfortunately at this date, neither of these negotiations has been successfully concluded. any reports otherwise, including as you refer to, reports iranian funds would be transferred are false, and our partners have not released restricted funds to iran nor is the united states authorized or approved any such transfer of restricted funds. we are continuing to approach both of these negotiations with the utmost urgency. we urge iran to do the same. we urge iran to without u.s. citizens to return home to their loved ones. >> [indiscernible]
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pakistan has said it once better relations with the united states to secure development in the region. do you see this as an opportunity? >> you probably saw what we released from the secretary last night regarding the selection of the prime minister for almost 75 years. the relationship is been a vital one. we look forward to continuing that work with pakistan's government to promote peace and prosperity in pakistan and the broader region, and in that spirit we have congratulated the prime minister on his election by the pakistani parliament and look forward to working with him and his government. >> whack's supporters organizing anti-u.s. protests?
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his supporters attacks on american journalists who disagree with them. do you have any a message for them who were organizing anti-u.s. protests in america? >> our message has been clear and consistent on this, there is no truth whatsoever to the allegation that has been put forward. we support the peaceful upholding of constitutional and democratic principles, including respect for human rights. we do not support whether it is in pakistan or anywhere else around the world one political party over another. we support broader principles, including the rule of law and equal justice under the law. >> today pakistan's military spokesperson said they had no evidence to suggest the united states was involved in seeking the ouster of the prime minister. >> we would agree with it.
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>> [indiscernible] >> we remain committed to promoting a peaceful democratic and prosperous future for the south caucasus region. and as you have heard before, the april 6 meeting between the prime minister and the president, including positive momentum on preparations for peace talks and a bilateral commission. mr. secretary emphasized in his call he had with those two leaders on april 5, we encourage further peace negotiations between armenia and azerbaijan. the united states stands ready to engage bilaterally with like-minded partners, including
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help the countries find a long-term comprehensive peace. >> [indiscernible] are you purposefully shutting the door to russia's negotiation efforts? given everything that russia is done in ukraine doesn't that qualify -- disqualify russia? >> i cannot speak to the role of the russia plays in this, but we stand ready to engage azerbaijan bilaterally or with like minded partners. >> [indiscernible]
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does this bother you at all? >> i would have to refer you to the osce. they put out a conference report yesterday regarding atrocities, potential war crimes that according to the moscow mechanism, russian forces have committed in ukraine, but i would need to refer you to the osce. >> staying on ukraine, progress in social media accounts published the passport of an american citizen claiming he was captured or killed. can you confirm whether that is the case? >> i cannot confirm that because reports that this u.s. citizen was captured in ukraine are not true. i cannot offer anything further to to privacy considerations but those reports are not true. >> so you're saying he was not
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captured? >> i am limited with how much i can say due to privacy considerations but we have reason to believe this individual is safe. >> on the meeting tomorrow between the ambassadors and ukrainian prosecutor general, is the u.s. providing intelligence to her office beyond cooperating with financial support? >> to the point earlier, we are pulling every lever available to us to garner insight into what has transpired on the ground in ukraine, what russian forces have committed in terms of atrocities and atrocity crimes. we are looking at who can source information, when all of us are seeing with our own eyes and reading with our own eyes, we also have the advantage of the resources of the u.s. intelligence community and the intelligence sharing relationships that we have around the world.
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as you might imagine there is quite a bit of focus trained on this very question. i am not going to get into the specific type of information to ambassador may or may not care with ukrainian prosecutor general tomorrow, but what i can say is we are providing our ukrainian partners with a range of information, strategic information, tactical information, information that they would need for the purposes of primarily -- >> for documented atrocities, it is more for the battlefield? >> i am not in a position to do detailed specifically with the capacitor may provide in that regard, but when it comes to our work at the department we are taking a close look at everything available to us, and our goal is documenting, analyzing, preserving, ensuring that evidence. in the first instance we are sharing it with ukrainian
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prosecutor general. >> the ambassadors have said all options are on the table, including in terms of the question of the icc, but this that include the current administration to any icc? >> i do not believe that is what being referenced here. the icc is intentional venue for accountability for russian war criminals. >> [indiscernible] we know bulgaria is been working the process for three years now. talks with the eu. our the u.s. supporting it
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because the opinion from mr. met with the general chancellor, and they said they might start negotiations with the eu. this is my first question. the second question is what is united states doing to convince bulgaria [indiscernible] >> for these questions i would need to refer you to the countries in question and to the eu. we have bilateral partnerships with all of the countries in question as well as that you, but those countries are best position to speak to it. >> i have two questions.
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the u.s. treasury imposed another sanction on north korea today. do you see this as evidence that these [indiscernible] for north koreans to build luxury houses and their capital? to give us to seoul. i will they -- how will they address the concerns of north korea? >> of the second part of your question we did announced today that are special envoy for dprk and his deputy will travel to seoul later this month. they do not leave for several
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days, they will be there from april 18 through the 22nd. during this trip that will have an opportunity to meet with their counterparts, other senior officials to discuss the situation on the korean peninsula, including the international community's response to the recent icbm lunches -- launches. this is part of a regular engagement that are special envoy has with his south korean counterpart. it is also part of the regular engagement and similar to the relevant -- regular engagement he has with our japanese counterparts as well. the special envoy had conversation with this japanese counterpart just yesterday. we believe in working closely with our japanese and south korean allies on the challenge posed by north korea's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs but also try laterally -- trilaterally.
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i do we have had opportunities to engage with these allies. secretary blinken met with his counterparts in honolulu late last year to discuss dprk. to your question about reports of potential planning on the part of the dprk, i am not in a position to speak to those reports to confirm or speak to any intelligence, but what i can say and what we know is the dprk in the past has use the occasion of holidays and other notable occasions within the dprk to engage in provocations, so of course we are closely watching for the possibility. >> [indiscernible] is he planning to meet dprk officials in the region? >> i am not aware of any plans. >> on an earlier question, is
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there any change in how the u.s. views finland and sweden joining nato? >> we believe there is no change because nato's open-door is an open door, and it is up to the nato alliance to determine and only the nato alliance to determine what its membership looks like. as you know, there are a set of criteria that any aspirant contributing to set aside, answer for before it would be in a position to join the alliance. >> are there any discussions going on between finland and sweden about providing any certain security between application and acceptance to nato? >> this is something the nato secretary-general spoke to what we were in brussels last week. he said when he was asked, i am
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certain we will find ways to address concerns they have between periods between the application and eventual ratification. >> are there plans for pilot of a security agreements -- bilateral security agreements? >> sweden and finland are close partners bilaterally of the united states but i do not have anything to add beyond what the secretary-general said. >> [indiscernible] the kremlin is described this is something that would not ring stability to europe -- bring stability to europe. [indiscernible] >> we would not be concerned that the expansion of a defensive alliance would do anything other than promote stability on the european continent. any aspirant country would have to meet the criteria spelled out
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in nato's charter, it would have to receive consent from the alliance itself, but nato is a defensive alliance that is there to defend and fortify, and nato would not be a threat to anyone who is not attacking nato. >> the russian battleship was allegedly struck by a ukrainian missile. >> i do not have more information beyond what you heard from the department of defense. the department of defense confirmed there appears to group an explosion aboard but i do not have any further details to offer. >> can i ask you a question on the genocide aspect? the repeated use of terms like war crimes and genocide would [indiscernible] when one talks about genocide rwanda comes to mind.
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if you keep repeating this, ultimately it is not good [indiscernible] >> we have repeated the term were crimes because russian forces have committed war crimes in ukraine. russia's forces have engaged in war crimes. i think that it underscores the atrocities and the level of atrocity, the scale and scope of atrocities that are being committed, and as a general point, i think your point is well taken, but there is nothing routine, there is nothing general about what all of us are seeing and have seen with our own eyes, the level of brutality, the level of atrocity that russian forces have engaged in against the ukrainian people inside sovereign ukrainian territory. >> a foreign minister discussed
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further sanctions with secretary blinken today. [indiscernible] will the office coordinate efforts between the agencies or is it about coordination between allies and partners? [indiscernible] >> that will be a key charge of the ambassador who is the head of that new office at the department of state. i hope many of you saw the announcement this morning that jim o'brien is now hard at work in his new role this week. he will work throughout this building, he will work with the inter-agency throughout the administration but also work with allies and partners to ensure that our approach to
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sanctions, the implementation of sanctions, the development of sanctions, specific ones and sanction authorities are coordinated and implemented effectively with allies and partners around the world. remind me of your first question? >> it is about the new sanctions package. >> we made the point that as long as russia continues to escalate its actions against the people of ukraine, until and unless it's brutality comes to an end, we will continue to escalate, and that will include additional financial and economic measures against the russian federation. >> [indiscernible] is there any sense of urgency to apply new sanctions in order to stop this offensive from happening in the first place? >> i think what is true and you
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have heard this from our department of defense counterparts is that the russians have quite a bit of firepower, in part because they have been defeated in the battle of kyiv, a bettel senior russian officials thought they would be able to win within a couple of days. we are now six weeks into this conflict, and russian forces have been repelled from kyiv and not repositioning to the south and east to begin what we believe to be a concerted campaign. so what we are doing in the face of this shifting side of bettel is providing our ukrainian partners precisely with this level and particulars of the security assistance that they have requested and that they would need to defend themselves from the campaign that the russian federation plans to undertake.
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that is one element of the equation. the other element of the equation is to continue pressure on the kremlin, and that pressure is taking the form of financial sanctions, other economic measures that have had a profound effect on russia's economy, russia's financial system, russia's positioning in the world. if you take a look at the economic goal of this edda because of coordinated sanctions and other economic measures, russia's economy is forecasted by most estimates to contract by some 15% over the course of this year, 30 years economic integration have been wiped out in the course of the past five or six weeks. 600 multinational companies have already chosen to leave the russian marketplace.
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it will only compound over time as inventories continue to be depleted with nothing there to replenish them. inflation is at a 50%. the kremlin has been forced to employ draconian and drastic measures to artificially prop up its ruble and keep it stock market afloat artificially, so putin is facing a strategic defeat on the military front, the economic front, politically. president putin is a pariah, and his is isolated diplomatically. you could measure that in terms of the votes we have seen at the u.n., the condemnation raining down from russia from all corners of the globe. his cronies face you take a look at the strategic
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implications of what has already been born by the kremlin. that is the case during the invasion of ukraine. when the european reassurance initiative began. nato is more united, more determined, more purposeful than it has been since anytime of the cold war. president putin faces an international community.
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>> is there anything economically in terms of the sanctions that you are thinking could have that effect? president putin has prioritized this in ukraine over just about everything else.
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a final question or so? >> what conversations does the state department have? we are united in the international community.
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what is at the core of that consensus -- even then, it was a campaign built on the first year of this administration. they had been so very critical to our ability to stand up to russia and to stand for whatever ukrainian partners are fighting to defend. i think the world has continued to be shocked by the level of atrocity, the level of violence.
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there is no sense that these countries are preparing to move on. there is a renewed horror, renewed condemnation, renewed determination to continue to see to it that our ukrainian partners have what they need. there are practical challenges that come with this. supply chain supplies, other
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elements of it. those are things we are working through. at a political level, strategic level, there has been no indication that we have seen the focus, the determination, the perseverance will manage over time.
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