Blinken says Russia’s ‘gamebook’ for invasion of Ukraine is moving forward, but war can still be avoided

“As we described it, it appears that whatever led to the actual invasion is happening,” Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

Blinken told CNN’s Dana Bash that President Joe Biden He is willing to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin “at any time and in any way” if it helps prevent war, saying the Biden administration will continue to take whatever steps it can to try to persuade Moscow not to invade Ukraine.

“We think President Putin made the decision, but until the tanks really rolled in, the planes flew, we’ll take every opportunity and every minute to see if diplomacy can still dissuade President Putin from moving forward on this.” He said.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry reported more than 100 ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine on Saturday and said the bombing continued until Sunday, while Russian forces remained in Belarus to continue military exercises that were supposed to end.

Blinken said he was concerned that the extension of the exercises was another sign that Russia was paving the way for invasion.

“They are now justifying the continuation of the ‘exercises’ which they said will now end, the continuation of those unquoted exercises on the situation in eastern Ukraine indefinitely – a situation they have created by continuing to escalate tensions,” Blinkin said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky He was in Germany on Saturday, where he met Vice President Kamala Harris at the Munich Security Conference. Zelensky said he was urging the United States and Europe not to wait for sanctions against Russia, arguing that they would not help Ukraine if they were invoked only after the invasion had already begun.

Blinken said on Sunday that the United States did not want to reveal the sanctions early because that would “allow Russia to try to plot against them.”

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“The sanctions are primarily intended to try to deter Russia from going to war,” he said. “Once you fire them, that deterrent is gone and until the last minute, as long as we can try to have a deterrent effect on this, we’ll try to do that.”

This story is down and will be updated.

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