Mar 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Blinken walks tightrope with Ukraine assessment

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is seen Sunday listening to the Moldovan foreign minister.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens to Moldovan President Maia Sandu on Sunday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is hinting Ukrainians may suffer a loss of their government if not their country — but expressly said neither would endure.

Why it matters: The world has rallied to Ukraine's cause, but the chief diplomat's carefully chosen words follow a report allied officials are concerned about the Ukrainian government's line of succession — and the possible need for a government-in-exile.

  • Political leaders are trying to brace supporters for a tough outcome — at least for now.
  • Over time, the pressure of external sanctions and a Western-backed insurgency within Ukraine would make it hard for Russia to hold the country.
  • A State Department spokesperson declined to expand upon Blinken's public comments.

What they're saying: "Vladimir Putin has, unfortunately, the capacity with the sheer manpower that he has in Ukraine, and the overmatch that he has, the ability to keep grinding things down against incredibly resilient and courageous Ukrainians," Blinken told CNN on Sunday from Moldova, his latest stop on a regional tour.

  • He was quick to add: "Just winning a battle is not winning the war. Taking a city does not mean he's taking the hearts and minds of the Ukrainian people."
  • "On the contrary, he is destined to lose. The Ukrainian people have demonstrated that they will not allow themselves to be subjugated to Vladimir Putin or to Russia's rule, but it could take it could take some time."

Blinken addressed the line-of-succession concerns on CBS's "Face the Nation," after a New York Times report raised the issue on Saturday.

  • "The Ukrainians have plans in place that I'm not going to talk about or get into any details on to make sure that there is what we would call continuity of government one way or another. And let me leave it at that," Blinken said.
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