Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the Kremlin’s plan for humanitarian corridors leading to Russia as ‘absurd’ on Wednesday as he demanded that Ukrainians be allowed to safely flee besieged cities.
Speaking after a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, he warned that imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine would prolong the conflict.
And he said that Poland had not gone about sending MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine in the right way.
But he reserved particular fury for Russian forces encircling Ukrainian cities, cutting off water, power and access to food and medicine.
‘And Russia’s relentless bombardment, including of civilians trying to flee, prevents people from safely escaping the hellish conditions that they’ve created,’ he said.
‘The Kremlin’s proposals to create humanitarian corridors leading into Russia and Belarus are absurd.
‘It’s offensive to suggest the Ukrainian people should seek refuge from the very government that has demonstrated such disregard for their lives.’
He spoke to reporters at the State Department after a Russian airstrike devastated a maternity hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol, injuring at least 17 people, according to local officials.
It comes amid a string of warnings that Moscow’s invasion is about to take a more brutal turn.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanded that Russian forces allow civilians to leave besieged cities, and dismissed the Kremlin’s plan for humanitarian corridors leading to Russia and Belarus as ‘absurd’
Blinken met with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Wednesday morning. She condemned the ‘abhorrent, reckless and appalling’ attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine
Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from the damaged by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022
A woman injured in Russian shelling of Mariupol’s maternity hospital stands outside wrapped in a blanket amid the carnage
The burning wreckage of a car is seen outside a destroyed children’s hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been under heavy Russian bombardment for more than a week
Blinken said negotiations continued among allies and partners about the best way to supply arms to Ukraine, a day after Washington apparently rejected a Polish plan to hand over its MiG-29 warplanes to the US for delivery to Ukraine.
It had to be done ‘in the right way,’ he said.
‘Departing from a US NATO Base in Germany to fly into airspace contested with Russia over Ukraine raises some serious concerns for the entire NATO Alliance,’ he continued.
‘So we have to work through the specifics of these things.
‘Going forward, it’s not simply clear to us if there’s a substantive rationale for doing it in the way that was put forward yesterday.’
But he said talks continued about the issue of how it might be done.
Both Truss and Blinken again rejected Ukrainian pleas for a no-fly zone, saying it wold bring NATO pilots into conflict with Russians.
‘Our goal is to end the war, not to expand it, including potentially expanding it to NATO territory,’ said the secretary of state.
Truss said the best way to defend Ukraine’s airspace was with anti-air weaponry, which the UK will supply to Ukraine.
‘The attack on the hospital is abhorrent, reckless and appalling, and the UK is at the forefront of supplying humanitarian aid into Ukraine,’ she added.
Blinken added his voice to warnings that setbacks to the Russian invasion could turn Putin down a path of increasing violence.
‘He has a clear plan right now to brutalise Ukraine. But to what end, because when it comes to an endgame, the big question in the first instance is what is his endgame?
‘We saw the failures of the initial military plan to quickly subjugate the country – that’s failed. So he’s now turning to a strategy of laying waste to the population centres, to the country.
‘If his goal is to impose some kind of puppet regime by displacing the existing government and putting in place one to his liking, I think it’s pretty evident by the response of the Ukrainian people that they will never accept that.
‘And if he tries to enforce such a puppet regime by keeping Russian forces in Ukraine, it will be a long, bloody, drawn out mess through which Russia will continue to suffer grievously.’
A day earlier, the director of the CIA revealed that Putin believed he could capture Kyiv in two days.
But two weeks after Russia launched its ‘special military operation,’ his forces remain stalled outside the capital and more than two million people have fled the country.
Blinken said the US had offered Putin ways to end the conflict but he had pressed ahead.
‘We’ve sought to provide possible off-ramps to President Putin,’ he said.
‘He’s the only one who can decide whether or not to take them.
‘So far, every time there’s been an opportunity to do just that, he’s pressed the accelerator and continued down this horrific road that he’s been pursuing.’