Crisis: Nearly 3m Ukrainians urgently need food, others – Blinken

By Oluwaseun Sonde

United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken has lamented that nearly 3 million Ukrainians including a million elderly people and half a million children, urgently need food, shelter, and other life-saving assistance due to ongoing border crisis between the country and Russia.

Blinken who disclosed this on Thursday, while in Germany seeking diplomatic path between Ukraine and Russia, said the war in eastern Ukraine, orchestrated by Russia with proxies that it leads, trains, supplies, and finances killed more than 14,000 Ukrainians and thousands more have been wounded as the entire towns have been destroyed.

According to him, “Nearly one and a half million Ukrainians have fled their homes to escape the violence. For Ukrainians in Crimea and the Donbas, the repression is acute. 

“Russia blocks Ukrainians from crossing the line of contact, cutting them off from the rest of the country. Hundreds of Ukrainians are being held as political prisoners by Russia and its proxies.  Hundreds of families don’t know if their loved ones are alive or dead”, he said.

Also stated that Russia has repeatedly turned away from agreements that have kept the peace across the continent for decades. “And it continues to take aim at NATO, a defensive, voluntary alliance that protects nearly a billion people across Europe and North America, and at the governing principles of international peace and security that we all have a stake in defending.

“Those principles, established in the wake of two world wars and a cold war, reject the right of one country to change the borders of another by force; to dictate to another the policies it pursues or the choices it makes, including with whom to associate; or to exert a sphere of influence that would subjugate sovereign neighbors to its will.

“To allow Russia to violate those principles with impunity would drag us all back to a much more dangerous and unstable time, when this continent and this city were divided in two, separated by no man’s lands, patrolled by soldiers, with the threat of all-out war hanging over everyone’s heads. 

“Which would send a message to others around the world that these principles are expendable, and would have catastrophic results. That’s why the United States and our allies and partners in Europe have been so focused on what’s happening in Ukraine. It’s bigger than a conflict between two countries. It’s bigger than Russia and NATO”, he said. 

Blinken noted that United States would greatly prefer diplomacy to the alternatives. “We know our partners in Europe feel the same way. So do people and families across the continent, because they know that they will bear the greatest burden if Russia rejects diplomacy. 

“And we look to countries beyond Europe, to the international community as a whole to make clear the costs to Russia if it seeks conflict, and to stand up for all the principles that protect all of us. So let’s look plainly at what’s at stake right now, who will actually be affected, and who is responsible”.

He emphasized that nowhere in Ukraine are people free from Russia’s malign activities. “Moscow has sought to undermine Ukraine’s democratic institutions, interfered in Ukraine’s politics and elections, blocked energy and commerce to intimidate Ukraine’s leaders

“And pressure its citizens, used propaganda and disinformation to sow mistrust, launched cyber attacks on the country’s critical infrastructure. The campaign to destabilize Ukraine has been relentless. And now Russia is poised to go even further. The human toll of renewed aggression by Russia would be by many magnitudes higher than what we’ve seen to date”. 

Blinken called for de-escalation of Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s border. “Resolving them won’t happen quickly. I certainly don’t expect we’ll solve them in Geneva tomorrow. But we can advance our mutual understanding. At the same time, the United States will continue to work with our allies.

“And partners in NATO, the European Union, the OSCE, the G7, the United Nations, throughout the international community to make clear that there are two paths before Russia: the path to diplomacy that can lead to peace and security; and the path of aggression that will lead only to conflict, severe consequences, international condemnation. 

“The United States and our allies will continue to stand with Ukraine and to stand ready to meet Russia on either path”, Anthony Blinken added.

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