US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has said that he’s “convinced” Russian President Vladimir Putin will attempt to overthrow the Ukrainian government.
Blinken made the comments during an interview on ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir on Thursday in response to a question asking if he’s “convinced Putin’s going to overthrow this government.”
“I’m convinced he’s going to try to do that,” Blinken said, adding that Putin has alienated Ukrainians from Russia.
“One of the things that Vladimir Putin has done, starting back in 2014 when they first went into Ukraine, seizing Crimea, seizing a part of eastern Ukraine, is to totally alienate the Ukrainian people from Russia. Before 2014, actually, Russia was pretty popular in Ukraine,” Blinken said. “It had a 70 percent favorability rating. Right now, it’s exactly the opposite – more than the opposite. Ninety percent of Ukrainians now, if I can use the word, ‘detest’ Russia and certainly detest President Putin. My prediction would be that one way or another, they will strongly resist any effort to take away their sovereignty, take away their independence, take away their government.”
Blinken said that he’s also “convinced,” however, that democracy in Ukraine will prevail.
“Over – whether it’s in the near term, whether it’s in the medium term, whether it’s in the long term, I am convinced that democracy and the independence of Ukraine is going to prevail,” Blinken said.
He also added that there’s a “possibility” that Putin will try to move the Russian military beyond Ukraine, but said that Article 5 of NATO is a deterrent.
“Is it a possibility that Putin goes beyond Ukraine? Sure, it’s a possibility, but there’s something very powerful standing in the way of that. That’s something we call Article 5 of NATO. That means an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members of NATO. The President’s been very clear that we will defend every inch of NATO territory. I think that’s the most powerful deterrent against President Putin going beyond Ukraine,” Blinken said.
The comments come after Putin said that he is greenlighting a “special military operation” in Ukraine early Thursday morning local time, and said, “our confrontation with these [Ukrainian] forces is inevitable.”
Afterward, explosions were heard in several Ukrainian cities, before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared martial law.