Blinken: U.S. seeks “continued engagement” with Russia despite sanctions

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Blinken: U.S. seeks

The Secretary of State noted that Washington will have to simultaneously confront Russian aggression and seek opportunities to enhance U.S. security

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that the United States remains committed to “continuing to work” with Russia on strategic stability despite its standoff with Moscow on human rights, cyber espionage, and other issues.

Blinken’s remarks came amid an announcement that the United States would impose sanctions on top Russian officials and Russian organizations for Moscow’s actions, which the U.S. authorities see as an attempt to assassinate opposition leader Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent.

Officials said the sanctions, which include an asset freeze, are being imposed on seven high-ranking Russian government officials. In addition, 14 organizations associated with the production of biological and chemical agents, including 13 commercial entities and a state research institute, were also subject to sanctions.

The U.S. decision was made in coordination with the European Union. U.S. officials, following President Joe Biden, called on Russia to release Navalny from prison.

But in an interview with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who now produces podcasts, Blinken made it clear that despite the sanctions, the Biden administration does not want to end all cooperation with Moscow.

“We have other important stakes, including the relationship with Russia,” he said. – One of them is what we call strategic stability. It’s about making sure that despite our still significant arsenals, especially nuclear weapons, we don’t do anything that would increase the likelihood of conflict and, God forbid, a nuclear exchange.”

Blinken recalled that one of President Biden’s first decisions was to extend the only remaining but a very important agreement between the United States and Russia, the START-3 treaty, which places serious limits on the two countries’ strategic nuclear arsenals.

“And that’s very good for both countries,” the secretary of state said.

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“We’re going to look for opportunities to work further,” he continued. – But I think we’re going to have to work on two fronts at once: strongly opposing Russian aggression (Ukraine is still a huge problem, given Russian interference) and at the same time looking for opportunities to improve our security in things like nuclear weapons.”

At the same time, Blinken stressed the importance of a proactive foreign policy and the need to uphold U.S. interests and values around the world.

“The bottom line is that if we don’t speak out forcefully when our interests or values are challenged, it creates a sense of impunity,” he pointed out. – In that case, the bad behavior continues and gets worse. As for Russia, we are analyzing a number of egregious actions that they have taken.”

“Whether it’s the cyberattack on SolarWinds that was written about; or what they did to one of Putin’s main political opponents, Alexei Navalny, namely using chemical weapons to try to kill him; or the reports that Russia was offering a reward for [killing] our soldiers in Afghanistan, or the interference in our elections, we are looking into it all,” Blinken said.

“And I can say with some certainty that we will take appropriate measures that we deem adequate to make clear that this kind of behavior is unacceptable to us, and we will take it with our allies and partners,” he summarized.