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tv   U.S. Ambassador to U.N. on Biden Administrations Foreign Policy  CSPAN  January 18, 2022 5:27pm-5:46pm EST

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morning program, "washington journal," where we hear your voices every day. c-span now has you covered. download the app for free today. >> next, linda thomas-greenfield, u.s. ambassador to the united nations, joins "washington post" opinion writer jonathan for discussion on the biden administration's foreign policy approach. >> good morning, and wo the podcast. president biden faces more than a few challenges on the world stage, china, north korea, russia, ukraine, and the increasing will invade ukraine. diplomacy is at the heart of his efforts to project american power around the world. where a lot of that plays out is at the united nations page
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joining me is the united states ambassador to the united nations, linda thomas-greenfield. welcome back. >> delighted to be here with you. jonathan: thank you for coming back to the podcast and you are coming back now and there's so much breaking news to get to about ukraine. and that is secretary of state antony blinken is heading to that region. do you know what precipitated this travel to the country. >> president biden wants to put diplomacy first and the most important diplomat is secretary blinken. he is using his platform to
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engage with partners including the ukrainians. although you may not have known about this in the past, it has always been on his agenda to engage with ukrainians on a regular basis as i have engaged with them in new york and with our partners in new york. we are putting diplomacy at the forefront of all of our engagements to address this issue and we want to be engaged with the ukrainians on this jonathan: -- secretary blinken and president biden have both said they will not have it without you. this is part of our medic engagement and is not unusual. jonathan: i understand the secretary of state has been engaging with the ukrainians out of public view, but this will be face to face. we shouldn't read anything into
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this meeting this week, especially given the news that we all woke up to this morning that the russians have been withdrawing personnel from their dogmatic outposts in ukraine and some are viewing that as potentially a prelude or a sign that an invasion is imminent. amb. thomas-greenfield: certainly we will continue to engage with them on that front and any actions that we have seen that the russians have taken that may indicate they are moving forward will cause us to ramp up our efforts as well in terms of our engagements with our partners. again, the secretary's trip to ukraine and announced is part of the wrap up of that engagement. jonathan: another story or nugget happening over there is the news that the russian military exercises in neighboring belarus.
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one of the concerns is those military exercises could end up resulting in a permanent russian presence in belarus, and the concern behind that is it would make it possible for the russians to race over the border from the north, south from crimea and the east. what is the concern the united states has about those military exercises? amb. thomas-greenfield: we are concerned about the exercises but we are also concerned about the buildup on the border with ukraine. all of those signal to us that the russians are looking at ukraine in an aggressive way. it is not just one action, it is the accumulation of actions and the intensity of their actions that have caused us to raise our concerns about the situation and
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to encourage others to address the situation very, very aggressively. jonathan: as you mentioned, you are talking about the massive troop buildup on the border with ukraine, there are 106,000 russian groups, 1500 tanks near its border. as we sit right now, how close is russia to invading ukraine? amb. thomas-greenfield: that is the question only the russians can answer for you, but their actions show to us that they are making moves that would suggest that they have plans to invade ukraine, and we will continue to engage with them diplomatically and hopefully discourage them from taking that as extraordinarily aggressive step, but should they decide to take that step, they know what our response would be. president biden has made clear
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to president putin that we will find aggressively and we are working with allies for efforts to engage aggressively with the russians on this. so for the course of the next few days our diplomatic approach is that it will work. jonathan: i want to talk about potential u.s. responses if the russians invade but want to talk about the few more aggressive actions. within the last five days, the white house press secretary accused the russians of a quote false operation that they were doing to make it look like the craniums were aggressive for the russians to retaliate. the ukrainian government entities were hit with a cyber attack with some of the
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government websites hit with a warning that read, "be afraid and expect the worst." that cyberattack came a day after talks broke down between the russians and the west. how alarming was that cyberattack the united states? amb. thomas-greenfield: look, i don't agree that talks have broken down and we are continuing to engage with the russians. you know that it was announced that secretary blinken spoke with the foreign minister. we are still talking to the russians that we are also watching their actions very closely. the cyberattack that took place over the weekend is being looked at and analyzed to see where that cyberattack came from. we know that the russians will use other tactics to undermine our country. we expect these kinds of actions to take place. the misinformation and
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disinformation that the ukrainians themselves are initiating actions against russia, this is all part of their label we understand quite well aired we know and they know you are watching closely and they know what to expect if they take any aggressive moves toward invading ukraine. it is interesting that you say the talks are still going on. on january 13, russian officials indicated they might abandon diplomatic efforts. one russian diplomat said the talks are reaching "a dead end." so the united states doesn't see it that way, does it? we are not going to give up until they take aggressive action. we are going to push them and keep our foot on the accelerator on this.
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they have two options, they can opt for de-escalation, the outward dialogue, and they can opt for diplomacy, or they can take the alternative, which would be an aggressive action against ukraine and our response would respond to that action. jonathan: so let's talk about the u.s. response would be. there are economic sanctions that could happen. how aggressive with the united states be on sanctions, on economic sanctions? with the united states go as far to freeze the bank accounts not only of prominent russians and close to vladimir putin but to freeze vladimir putin's account also? amb. thomas-greenfield: we have said we will apply sanctions to the russians and they know what those sanctions will entail. that is going to advance what
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the playbook would be in terms of who we will apply those sanctions to and when we will apply those sanctions so the russians know to expect them and they know the impact they will have on the russian economy. jonathan: a lot of americans are wondering if indeed the russians do invade ukraine and do so militarily with some of the hundred plus thousand troops with the hundreds of tanks that they have, will the united states, will nato send the military in to help protect ukraine, defend ukraine? amb. thomas-greenfield: we provided ukraine military support to help them prepare for such an eventuality, and we are also having discussions with nato partners and other allies
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on how we will respond should the russians take such an action. this is not something i can preview for you to help the russians prepare for responding to our actions. jonathan: the national security adviser said the united states was ready for other talks but also said "we have been very close with russia on the consequences of further military action or destabilization, so we are ready either way." given that quote and what you just said, the united states is prepared to do anything and everything, including military action? amb. thomas-greenfield: we are prepared as you quote to take the necessary actions to respond to russian aggression, including at the security council where i will be leaving efforts to bring this before the council.
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it the russians make the decision to invade ukraine, this is an attack on the entire u.n. charter and peace and security around the globe. this is something we will address in the council and the russians should be prepared for that. we have already had discussions with various colleagues and allies in new york. they are aware of our position and they know to expect that should russia make this move that we will come to the council and come quickly to the council. jonathan: ambassador, on that way, you talk about the security council, where russia has powers in the same way the united states does in china does. what can the united states doing
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the potential offender gives reason for this counsel to meet, has veto power over what the security council can do in response? amb. thomas-greenfield: in 2014 when the russians invaded crimea, we brought a resolution before the council and we got 13 votes, one ascension and a russian veto. russia was isolated and they saw and felt isolation, and that would be the purpose of coming before the council. of course they will veto any resolution that involves them, they will be totally isolated and they will be on the defensive. jonathan: so the united nations passes a resolution, is there anything more the united nations, and particularly the security council, can do if/when the russians roll over that
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border? amb. thomas-greenfield: we could expose what they do when they roll over the border. they use the disinformation campaign not just in ukraine and around the globe, but they use the disinformation campaign at the security council and we can expose their actions and publicize their actions in the security council. jonathan: there was a bipartisan delegation of u.s. senators that was in ukraine. can you give us a readout of how those meetings went? amb. thomas-greenfield: unfortunately i didn't get a readout from their visit, but i can tell you that i know that they expressed strong support for ukraine and ukraine's independence and sovereignty and for their ability to defend themselves. jonathan: over the weekend, the
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new york times reported that russian officials "hinted" that moscow could place nuclear missiles close to the u.s. coastline which could reduce after watch -- after lunch warning times to five minutes bear that is provocative. what is the united states' reaction to that news? amb. thomas-greenfield: the russians are pulling every straw out of the basket that they can pull out to intimidate us into allowing them to take this action. they know that if they take such an aggressive action against the united states that again they can expect the response, and that response will be a strong response. jonathan: and is it safe to assume that provocative hint is related to the core reception russia got to the demand that nato drastically scale back the presence near russia's border in eastern europe? amb. thomas-greenfield: again, i know that they are trying to
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spohn in a way to intimidate the world, -- to respond in a way to intimidate the world and we are not going to allow ourselves to be intimidated nor will we allow ukraine to be intimidated to compromise their own security. jonathan: a lot of the aggressive actions taken by russia as you accurately called them, to the troops on the border and tanks on the border and the cyberattack on ukraine makes me wonder how much of what russian president vladimir putin is doing, how much of russia is doing is related to what is happening here in the united states. i am not asking you this question to get you into a question of politics, but i am wondering, how much does the president's standing at home, the low approval ratings that he has, what's going on, the tussle
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that's happening in the senate with the presidents of gemma stick agenda -- the president's agenda, how much of that do you think is playing into russia's calculations in terms of how far they can push in terms of these aggressive actions, and questioning whether the united states is at a week might that we can't -- a weak point that we can do this or that president biden is at a weak point or distracted and won't follow through on the consequences that you, jake sullivan, and secretary blinken have been talking about for weeks. amb. thomas-greenfield: i can't analyze the motives of president putin or what is playing into his calculus for the aggressive stance that he has taken, but the president and this administration has a lot to be proud of.
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we have exerted our leadership globally. we have exerted our leadership multilaterally. our leadership in the u.n. is as strong as it has ever been, and our bishop and respect around the globe is equally strong. if putin is program to take you to the house of representatives as part of c-span's more than 40-year commitment to live gavel-to-gavel coverage of congress. members are expected to debate legislation that allows schools to use prepandemic enrollment numbers when applying for certain federal aid. now live to the floor of the house here on c-span. . for what purpose does the gentleman from virginia seek recognition? >> mr. speaker, i move that the house suspend the rules and pass the bill, s.2959 -- s. 2959. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: senate 2959. an act to provide th

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