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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good morning, everyone.  (Laughter.)  We’ve barely gotten started.  I won’t ask you actually to turn the lights off.  (Laughter.)

Dymtro, it’s great to, as always, to be with you.  I know we have a lot to talk about.  We had a chance to see each other at dinner last night as well, and of course, at NATO before that.  You know, the Ukrainian people know, the unwavering commitment of the United States to Ukraine’s territorial integrity, its sovereignty, its independence.  I think coming from the NATO meetings, that is a view that not only the United States holds, but all of our NATO allies hold as well.  That was very, very clearly evident in conversations that we had over the last couple of days.

We have the deep concerns about the aggressive posture that Russia has taken once again toward Ukraine, and I look forward to talking to you about the way forward on that as well as many other things that are important in our relationship.  But I’m glad to have the opportunity to compare notes directly at what is a critical time.

FOREIGN MINISTER KULEBA:  It’s really good to have this opportunity, and I appreciate the discussion that took place yesterday in Riga at the NATO summit.  I think it’s a great coincidence that we have both NATO and OSCE events following each other because these are the venues which fit the best to discuss the security situation and the way how allies and other European countries can deter Russia from being – from resorting to a military operation again.

As we see Russia provokes Ukraine militarily but also diplomatically, we will continue to demonstrate restraint.  At the same time, we will continue working and calling on — with partners and calling on them to prepare a deterrent package that will make President Putin think twice before resorting to military force.  I think that all of us have to be focused on deterring Russia at this point, and we have no intentions to provoke them or to hold military operations in Donbas.

Ukraine is committed to the peaceful resolution of the conflict, and I really appreciate the role of the United States in all of these elements, in deterring Russia in a more broader sense, but also in putting together this deterrence package that will bring together the transatlantic community in order to ensure the full maximum efficiency measures that may be taken.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  Thanks, everyone.

U.S. Department of State

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