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US Deputy Secretary of State: Putin is confident and will not go astray

As tensions escalate over Taiwan and Ukraine, we decided to ask U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman how the Biden administration intends to meet these two foreign policy challenges.

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping bonded at basketball games when they were vice presidents. Today, their relationship has escalated over Taiwan and a number of trade issues. The situation in Ukraine also takes up a lot of President Biden’s time. Host Ann McElvoy talks to US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman about the administration’s handling of two of its biggest foreign policy challenges, as well as its focus on the Indo-Pacific.

Wendy Sherman: Hello Ann. Thank you for inviting me.

Before we move on to the significant foreign policy challenges facing America, including China, let me ask you a question about the conflict in Ukraine. It is now in its sixth month since it began, and America has already sent more than $44 billion in military aid to Ukraine. President Zelensky claims his goal is to restore territorial integrity all countries. Does the Biden administration support this goal, and how can it contribute to achieving it?

“We are in a difficult position because of Vladimir Putin’s unreasonable and pre-planned decision to unleash a conflict in Ukraine. We are all in solidarity with the UN Charter, which clearly spells out issues related to territorial integrity, the right to independently determine their own political future and the importance of sovereignty, and Putin took and violated all these principles at once. Much is at stake in the current conflict. President Biden put it best here: “Throughout this crisis, I have stuck to this principle: nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.” Therefore, we support the ambitions of this country.

It’s hard to guess what’s going on in another person’s head. For my part, I can say that I spent the most time in his company in Sochi, accompanying the then Secretary of State Kerry. We were together for a total of four hours, and I can say that he comes across as a very educated person who does not need any cheat sheets. He speaks fluently, is confident in himself, has an idea of ​​​​where he is going. I don’t think he’s going to deviate from his path. Everyone else in the world needs to realize the scope of his ambitions. You know, just recently, Foreign Minister Lavrov said that Russia aimed to take the whole country for itself. [Украину], and not just its eastern part, which is pretty bad. And that Russia wants to get rid of the local regime and return the country to its historical roots. Frankly, such statements are alarming.

— As you already said, President Zelensky justified his choice very clearly. It is a sovereign state that determines its own destiny. And the world rallied in support of Ukraine. The corresponding resolution of the UN Security Council, if my memory serves me, was adopted by 141 countries. The situation is terrible, Vladimir Putin made an unprovoked and unfair decision. And you know, the people have always advocated a diplomatic solution to the conflict, and we, in turn, proposed and tried to resolve everything in this way even before the start of the special operation. Everything could end very quickly, Vladimir Putin could stop, withdraw troops and sit down at the negotiating table.

— We all saw the memorandum on the results of the meeting between Putin and Xi Jinping shortly before the start of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. It says that bilateral partnership has no boundaries. However, in reality, we saw that there are still some boundaries. We have notified the PRC that the world is watching closely to see if they will provide any military or material support for Putin’s operation in Ukraine. And to date, there has never been anything like it. Yes, they help to spread disinformation on the Russian side that the food crisis was caused not by Putin’s decisions, but by sanctions, although it was he who was to blame for the increase in food prices. I believe that China is aware of the full benefit of its current position: it will not break off relations with Putin, but it will not provide him with material support either. I hope this will continue in the future. We are closely following developments.

“The point is not to force other countries to choose between the US and, say, China, but to remind them of the existence of an order based on rules. We all need to adhere to the same rules. Many countries, especially developing ones, may have a chance to move forward without incurring unsustainable debts to China and without disrupting the usual functioning of markets. The paradox is that the PRC has risen because of this very rules-based order. Now, in a stronger position, they want to dictate their own rules, while ignoring those that can help others develop. This is what, among other things, the United States is trying to convey to the world. We do not put anyone before a choice, but we call for action with an eye to the order based on the rules; insist on a level playing field for all; create conditions to ensure that your country, your sovereignty, your data and future are safe; interact with other countries and offer them different options, including something as powerful as democracy. We build relationships, including with non-democratic states, which nevertheless adhere to the rule-based order, the UN Charter and everything else that we work together to ensure that each country can give its people a chance for a brighter future.

– Relations between the United States and Taiwan are regulated by relevant law. The one China policy provides an effective basis for building informal relations with Taiwan. And we will continue to provide it with military supplies and defense services to build a solid capability in the face of the Chinese threat.

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