U.S. 'Will Adapt And Adjust' As War Evolves In Ukraine, Blinken Says As He Wraps Up Eastern European Trip

U.S. 'Will Adapt And Adjust' As War Evolves In Ukraine, Blinken Says As He Wraps Up Eastern European Trip

The top U.S. diplomat on Friday wrapped up his Eastern European trip by leaving the door open for the possibility that the Biden administration could expand permission for Ukraine to use American weapons to strike at a broader array of targets inside Russia, even beyond the Kharkiv area, TURAN’s Washington correspondent, who this week traveled in the press pool with Secretary Antony Blinken, reports.

"Going forward, we’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing, which is, as necessary, adapt and adjust. And that, as I said, has been a hallmark of our engagement; it will continue to be," Blinken said when asked whether the U.S. might give permission for Ukraine to use U.S.-made weapons to strike deeper into Russia.

"As I’ve also said many, many times, we want to make sure that we’re proceeding deliberately as well as effectively" the top diplomat told reporters at a solo news conference in Prague after an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

Blinken first used the phrase “adapt and adjust” back in Chisinau on Wednesday, the first stop of this trip, to suggest that the U.S. administration was about to make a major policy decision to grant Ukraine permission to use the weapons to strike back in Russia from Kharkiv, something that Biden had steadfastly refused to do since the beginning of the war, in fair of Russian escalation.

“Let me clear: self-defense is not escalation,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Friday afternoon. “Self-defense is a fundamental right. Ukraine has the right and the responsibility to protect its people, and we have the right to help Ukraine uphold its right of self-defense.”

“Of course, Russia doesn’t like this,” Stoltenberg added. “Putin wanted to deter NATO allies from supporting Ukraine. But we will not be deterred.”

Although the NATO ministerial in Prague had been intended as a planning session for the full NATO summit scheduled for July in Washington, the issue of returning fire dominated discussions this week. Following the U.S. decision, Germany announce Friday it also would allow Ukraine to return fire into Russia using German-supplied weapons.

During their solo briefings in Prague both Blinken and Stoltenberg spoke about NATO members' commitment to supporting Ukraine with 'robust' military aid.

"We need a firm commitment for the long haul to ensure that Ukraine is able to plan, to ensure that Ukraine has the predictability they need to conduct this war of self-defense," Stoltenberg said. NATO countries already provide 99% of Ukraine’s military aid, he added.

Blinken also said that there will be a 'robust package' of support for Ukraine at the Washington summit, a package that strengthens NATO’s cooperation and support for Ukraine; that advances Ukraine’s integration into NATO; tangible steps that will increase NATO’s role in helping Ukraine build a future force, one that can deter and defend against aggression, as he put it.

The Secretary went on to conclude, "At the same time, you’re going to see, I think, the completion of these bilateral security agreements, 32 countries that are engaged in doing that.  I expect all of that to come together at the summit as well, and that will help ensure that Ukraine is properly resourced to continue to defend itself.  But this is a process, and we’re proceeding very methodically and proceeding in a way that is delivering practical benefits to Ukraine, including advancing its membership to NATO in very clear and practical ways."

Following the summit, Blinken spent his flight home from Prague calling his counterparts from Ukraine, and Middle East to discuss Washington's position on both regions.

During a call with Ukraine's Kuleba, Blinken highlighted the U.S.’ support for Ukraine's ability to defend itself. He also affirmed the U.S.’ strong support for the upcoming Switzerland-hosted Summit on Peace in Ukraine. 

“The two agreed to finalize bilateral talks on long-term security arrangements in the next several weeks,” the State Department said in a readout of the call. They also discussed the impact newly-arrived U.S. military assistance is having on the battlefield.

During a call with foreign minsters of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkiye, Blinken discussed a three-phase proposal Israel has submitted to wind down the grinding crisis and to achieve immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Blinken emphasized that Hamas should accept the deal and that every country with relationship with Hamas "should press it to do so without delay," as he told Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.

Each ministers expressed a desire for a ceasefire and end to the war, as a senior State Department official told reporters in flight.

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