America’s top diplomat on Friday delivered a barnstorming speech in Finland, eviscerating Putin, ridiculing Russia’s armed forces, while vowing to help Ukraine build a “military of the future.”

Against a backdrop of stars and stripes, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a crowd at the Helsinki City Hall that a strong Ukraine in control of territory currently illegally occupied by Russia would be a prerequisite for any future peace talks.

“Precisely because we have no illusions about [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s aspirations, we believe the prerequisite for meaningful diplomacy and real peace is a stronger Ukraine – capable of deterring and defending against any future aggression,” he said.

Five key points emerged from the speech:

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1. 'A Case Study in Failure'

Blinken described Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine as a “case study in failure,” adding: “When you look at President Putin’s long-term strategic aims and objectives, there is no question: Russia is significantly worse off today than it was before the full-scale invasion.

"Where Putin aimed to project strength, he has revealed weakness. Where he intended to divide, he has united.”

The location of Blinken’s speech was evidence of his assertion – Finland shed its historic prudence and joined NATO in direct response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

2. Digs at Putin

Blinken called out Putin personally, saying he was sending Russians to die in “a meat grinder of his own making.”

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In a moment of dark humor that brought chuckles from the audience, he said: “The Kremlin often claimed it had the second strongest military in the world – and many believed it.

“Today, many see Russia’s military as the second strongest in Ukraine.”

 

Ukraine’s General Staff last month claimed the total number of Russian troops killed or wounded during its full-scale invasion of Ukraine has surpassed 200,000.

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The figure means Russia has lost a number of troops so large – 200,590 – it surpasses many countries’ entire serving armed forces.

3. A Strong Ukraine

If there were any doubts over the US’s continued support for Ukraine, Blinken attempted to sweep them away, saying: “Investing in Ukraine’s strength is not at the expense of diplomacy – it paves the way for it.”

Blinken instead vowed to keep building a “military of the future” for Ukraine, which meant “a modern air force, integrated air and missile defense, advanced tanks and armored vehicles, the national capacity to produce ammunition, and the training and support to keep forces and equipment combat ready.”

Ukraine has received some $50 billion in US assistance since the war, with the United States recently agreeing to F-16 fighter-jets.

4. A 'Potemkin Peace'

Blinken insisted that any ceasefire that freezes in place Russia’s gains would be a “Potemkin peace,” and mocked critics who said that peace meant to “stop supporting Ukraine” or for Kyiv to “cut its losses and give up the fifth of its territory that Russia illegally occupies.”

His comments were in stark contrast to those made by Donald Trump on Thursday evening, who claimed he could stop the entire war “in 24 hours.”

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When pressed to explain exactly how he would achieve this, the former president said: “I will get them into a room, and I know an exact way. You tell one ‘you’re not going to get anything unless you make a deal.’ You tell the other one ‘they’re going to get a lot unless you make a deal.’

“And you just sit them, and you put them, and you have to make a determination.”

 

Although Trump did not say which one was which, his comments appear to suggest he would force Ukraine to accept the loss of territories illegally occupied and annexed by Russian forces with the threat of rewarding President Putin with even more if they refuse to accept his offer.

In 2018, Trump travelled to the Finnish capital to see Putin, with the Republican facing widespread criticism for appearing to take at face value the Russian leader’s denials of interfering in the US election two years earlier.

5. China

Around the same time that Blinken was speaking on Friday, China’s special envoy for Eurasian affairs was painting a very different picture of events in a conversation with journalists in Beijing where he laid blame for the conflict on the West, which has sent arms to Ukraine in a bid to assist it in its fight against the Russian offensive.

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“If we really want to stop the war, save lives and achieve peace, we should stop sending weapons to the battlefield,” Li said.

“The painful lessons of how the Ukraine crisis developed to its current state merit deep reflection by all parties,” he added.

“In essence, the Ukraine crisis is the massive outbreak of contradictions in European security governance.”

Back in Finland, Blinken addressed the China issue, saying the war on Ukraine has only strengthened US resolve against “potential threats” from Beijing, which has not ruled out force to seize Taiwan. 

Blinken said that Russia’s relationship with China has become “more and more one-sided” and that its Blinken said that the US “welcomes any initiative that helps bring President Putin to the table to engage in meaningful diplomacy” but only if it ensures Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

“We will support efforts – whether by Brazil, China or any other nation – if they help find a way to a just and lasting peace, consistent with the principles in the UN Charter."

China says it is a neutral party in the conflict, but it has been criticized for refusing to condemn Moscow for its offensive, and its close strategic partnership with Russia.

In February, Beijing released a paper calling for a “political settlement” to the conflict, which Western countries warned could enable Russia to hold much of the territory it has seized in Ukraine. 

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Comments (5)

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David
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Finally, a clear eyed assessment of immediate and long term Russian ambitions, and the corresponding unified long term strategy and actions EU counties will implement to neutralise Putin’s unacceptable agenda, which Putin published several years ago..

The contrast with Trump’s recently stated strategy cannot be more stark. Unfortunately Trump continues to make stupid but nevertheless valuable contributions to both Russia and Beijings propaganda efforts, that fully aligns with their strategy.

Hard to decide whether Trump is a total dunce inadvertently producing entirely disingenuous proposals that favour Putin, or these proposals are the result of Trump being highly compromised by dirt Putin has on him, or by his own.egotistical notions of how to ‘get along with” his friend Putin, or just something to diverge from the unified US and EU strategy, dressed up as a “smarter” way to deal with the situation Putin has engineered.

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Pavov
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I mean no disrespect to your country thank you for all that you do.

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Pavov
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I'm not American so I find this fighting weird and I don't understand why do you do this to each other?

Pavov
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@Pavov, I mean no disrespect to your country thank you for what you have done to help

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Stimpacker
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When China attacks Taiwan, we will remind them to stop sending weapons to the battlefield.

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Darren Stacey
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China sell ammo to both Ukraine and Russia,it also produces 155 mm rounds,Invest in Norienco Arms Co, I guess

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