Nobody wants to see another anniversary of Ukraine war: John Kirby
By Beatriz Pascual Macías
Warsaw, Feb 21 (EFE).- United States president Joe Biden hopes there will not be a second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the first one looms, John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesman, tells Efe in an interview.
Kirby, one of the most recognizable faces of the Biden administration, says the US leader hopes Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy can bolster his position before any kind of negotiations begins with Russia.
With the first anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s invasion just three days away, Kirby takes stock of the impact of the war and underlined Biden’s messages to the Ukrainian people following his surprise visit to Kyiv Monday.
EFE: Why did Biden choose to visit Kyiv and how did he feel to be there?
KIRBY: Biden was very proud and pleased to be able to visit Kyiv, ahead of the anniversary of this war. Certainly nobody wants to celebrate another anniversary. We obviously would love to see this war end as soon as possible, but unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Mr. Putin is willing to do that, which is why the president went to Kyiv, to make sure that he can convey to the Ukrainian people that the United States is going to stand with them for as long as it takes.
EFE: You have mentioned that Washington will be with Ukraine for “as long as it takes” and Biden says the same often. What do you mean by that exactly?
KIRBY: As long as it takes to make sure that President Zelenskyy is in the strongest possible position if and when he’s ready to negotiate with Mr. Putin. We’ve said it many times. This war could end today. There was no reason for it to be started, and Putin can end it today. It was a war of his choice, he can choose to do the right thing and leave. Obviously, that doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. So we have to make sure that Mr. Zelenskyy is in the best possible position.
EFE: What is Biden’s position given the belief that the war is due to drag on?
KIRBY: Since before this war started a year ago, the president has been very focused on making sure that we were doing two really important things. One was supporting Ukraine, and nobody exceeds the United States in our financial and military support to Ukraine over the last year.
And number two, to make sure that we shore up the Eastern Flank of Nato, and that we made clear to Mr. Putin and to the world, certainly to our allies, that we take our Article Five commitment to Nato very seriously. When this war started, there were 80,000 American troops on the European continent, there are now 100,000 troops, and President Biden has put a plan in place to keep that 100,000 number at that level for the foreseeable future.
EFE: How does Biden view the unity in Nato and the European Union heading forward?
KIRBY: The EU and Nato remain completely united and are pushing back on Mr. Putin, holding him accountable and supporting Ukraine. Mr. Putin thought that by weaponizing energy and food he would try to forge cracks in our alliances, but all he did was shore them up. Nato is now more resolved and determined than it has ever been. And now, it’s likely to be joined by two new militaries, Finland and Sweden.
CHINA’S DECISION ON ARMING RUSSIA
EFE: Turning to China, the US secretary of state Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the US had information that China was considering supplying lethal assistance to Russia. What evidence does the US have of this?
KIRBY: I won’t go beyond those comments except to say that China has a choice to make. We would obviously prefer to see China come down on the side of the rest of the global community and condemn what Mr. Putin is doing in Russia, abide by the sanctions that have been applied to Russia, and help the rest of the world isolate Mr. Putin.
However, they have not done that. And their calls for negotiating a peace are fairly empty and vacuous, given that China has not been serious about joining the rest of the world and condemning this war.”