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Putin has been unwilling to engage in Ukraine talks, says Secretary of State Blinken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Berlin, Germany, on June 24, 2022.
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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Berlin, Germany, on June 24, 2022.

Russia has been unwilling to engage in talks over Ukraine, said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in an interview with NPR.

"We have not seen any interest on the part of Vladimir Putin in engaging in any kind of meaningful diplomatic initiative," Blinken said.

The conversation was part of a panel held by the Atlantic Council in Madrid, and featured both Blinken and Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares.

Blinken added that it is important that the Ukrainians define the terms of any potential negotiation, and that the U.S. role right now is to make sure that they have the means to continue to repel the Russian aggression.

When asked about Russia's recent attacks and whether Blinken thinks they're meant as signals to NATO, he replied: "There was a fiction that Vladimir Putin tried to advance that this was somehow about a threat that NATO posed to Russia or that Ukraine posed to Russia. It was never about that, and it remains clear that it never will be. What this is about is Vladimir Putin's conviction that Ukraine does not deserve to be a sovereign, independent country."

On the recent incidents of migrant deaths in San Antonio, Texas, and Melilla, Spain – and whether this is a security issue NATO should address:

"For the first time, the countries in our hemisphere, through the what's called the Los Angeles Declaration, said we have shared responsibilities when it comes to trying to deal with migration because not a single one of us alone can deal with it effectively," Blinken said. "And we are following through on a number of things that we've agreed to try to work on this collectively."

On how NATO is dealing with China:

"The relationship that we all have with China is among the most complex and consequential of any relationship that we have with another country," Blinken said. "And there are aspects of the relationship that are clearly competitive, and we need to make sure that that competition is fair and engage in it very, very strongly. At the same time, there are aspects increasingly where we have to contest what China is doing."

On where NATO is headed after this summit:

"We tend to look at our security in different silos. We've had a transatlantic silo. We had an Asian silo ... We have to break them down. Because virtually all of these problems touch on each of us, and there are different competencies and different perspectives and different assets that countries can bring to bear, if they're working together ... NATO's emerging from this summit more united, more focused, and with more assets to deal with a multiplicity of challenges," the secretary said.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.