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11 Apr, 2021 16:08

Obama ‘deterred Russia from doing even more’ in Ukraine, Blinken claims as he’s grilled on US policy towards Moscow & Beijing

Obama ‘deterred Russia from doing even more’ in Ukraine, Blinken claims as he’s grilled on US policy towards Moscow & Beijing

US President Joe Biden’s Secretary of State has been forced to defend the response of the previous Democrat government to the 2014 crisis in Ukraine, suggesting that Barack Obama prevented Russia from “doing even more” back then.

Antony Blinken was confronted on Sunday by NBC host Chuck Todd, who suggested the US response to the 2014 crisis was underwhelming and that Biden may face a similar situation with China and Taiwan today.

Blinken, who served as Deputy National Security Advisor in the Obama administration in 2014, defended the policy, saying his former boss “led a very significant international effort to impose real cost and sanctions on Russia.”

“How did it work out, in fairness?” Todd responded, to which Blinken said: “What we don’t know is has this deterred Russia from doing even more.”

He went on to reiterate US concerns over the current tensions over Donbass and how Biden is ready to inflict “costs and consequences,” should Russia “act recklessly and aggressively”. He disagreed with the host when he pointed out that Biden’s Russia policy looked exactly like Obama’s (and Trump’s), which didn’t appear to make Russia act the way Washington wants it to.

“We can’t go back four years ago or six years ago or eight years ago – pick your year,” he said, reiterating the threat of making Russia pay for perceived incidents.

The 2014 crisis in Ukraine started with US-backed violent anti-government protests in Ukraine, in which right-wing nationalists played the role of foot soldiers against security forces. An outspokenly anti-Russian government was brought into power on the back of the uprising, which stirred discontent in the Russia-friendly eastern regions of Ukraine.

Also on rt.com Donbass crisis: Domestic political battles in Kiev, Moscow & Washington could see Ukraine & Russia stumbling into war nobody wants

Over the past week, Washington has been sending strongly-worded warnings to Moscow over the movements of troops on its western border. From the US point of view, Russia is acting aggressively and may be preparing for military action in Ukraine. 

Russia’s position is quite the opposite: first of all, officials contend that Moscow is moving its troops within the country’s own borders. Secondly, the political instability in Ukraine may prompt the government in Kiev to launch a new attack on the rebellious eastern region of Donbass and Russia says it is making sure it’s ready to respond to it.

The tension is not unlike that of 2014, when the post-coup government in Kiev sent its military to quash dissent in Donbass and suffered a humiliating defeat by local militias – which some have blamed on the Russian intervention. The setback shortly followed Moscow's reabsorption of Crimea, which the US considers an act of annexation by force.

After the Ukrainian army failed to capture Donbass, a peace roadmap, which would allow the breakaway regions to reintegrate under special terms guaranteeing their autonomy and representation, was agreed after international talks in Minsk, Belarus. Kiev sabotaged the Minsk agreements for years and has recently pulled out of peace talks altogether.

Meanwhile the President Volodymyr Zelensky, once a widely popular politician whose party in 2019 managed to secure a unilateral majority in the Ukrainian parliament, has lost much of his public support. He suffered a major defeat in last year’s regional elections and has recently launched several attacks on the more popular opposition forces. He ordered the shutdown of TV channels critical of his government and a crackdown on the main opposition political party, the leader of which has been bombarding Zelensky personally with acerbic criticisms.

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