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Blinken: Russia’s war against Ukraine a ‘strategic failure’
June 5, 2023

Blinken: Russia’s war against Ukraine a ‘strategic failure’

Children play at an abandoned checkpoint in Kherson, southern Ukraine, in November 2022. (© Bernat Armangue/AP)


Speaking in the capital of NATO’s newest member, Finland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken made clear the strategic failure Russia has suffered as a result of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

He also laid out clear principles for a just and lasting peace while cautioning against a “Potemkin peace.” The term “Potemkin” refers to the 18th-century Russian government minister Grigory Potemkin who reportedly had brightly painted village facades built to create an illusion of prosperity for Empress Catherine II of Russia during a trip.

“Russia is significantly worse off today than it was before its full-scale invasion of Ukraine — militarily, economically, geopolitically,” the secretary said June 2 in Helsinki. His remarks come as the Kremlin’s full-scale war against Ukraine has surpassed 15 months, causing horrific suffering for the people of Ukraine.

Worse off militarily

The secretary noted that for years Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to weaken and divide NATO. The February 2022 invasion has only strengthened that bond, the secretary said. Finland has become the 31st NATO member, and Sweden is expected to be the 32nd.

The Kremlin has often claimed it had the second-strongest military in the world. “Today, many see Russia’s military as the second-strongest in Ukraine,” the secretary said. Russia’s equipment, technology, leadership, troops, strategy, tactics and morale create “a case study in failure.”

Russia is estimated to have suffered more than 100,000 casualties in the last six months.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Helsinki City Hall in Helsinki, Finland, on June 2 (State Dept./Chuck Kennedy)


Worse off economically

Putin has wanted to build Russia up as a global economic power. Instead, Russia’s economy is a shadow of what it was and a fraction of what it could have become had Putin invested in technology and innovation rather than war, the secretary said.

The secretary noted that since the February 2022 full-scale invasion:

  • Russia’s foreign reserves are down by more than half.
  • Oil and gas tax revenues have fallen by nearly two-thirds.
  • More than 1,700 foreign companies have reduced, suspended or ended operations in Russia since the invasion began.
  • A million people have fled Russia, including many of the country’s top information technology specialists, entrepreneurs, engineers, doctors, professors, journalists and scientists.

Worse off geopolitically


Monitors show results of a United Nations General Assembly vote for a U.N. resolution upholding Ukraine’s territorial integrity and calling for a cessation of hostilities after Russia’s February 2022 invasion. (© Bebeto Matthews/AP)


Russia is more isolated on the world stage than ever, the secretary said.

At least 140 nations — more than two-thirds of the U.N.’s 193 member-states — have repeatedly voted in the U.N. General Assembly to take the following actions:

  • Affirm Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • Reject Putin’s attempts to illegally annex Ukrainian territory and condemn Russia’s aggression and atrocities.
  • Call for a peace consistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

By weaponizing food and fuel, Putin also has diminished Russia’s influence on every continent, the secretary said.

The secretary said Putin’s core aim has been to erase the very idea of Ukraine — its identity, its people, its culture, its agency, its territory. But here, too, Putin’s actions have had the opposite effect.

“No one has done more to strengthen Ukraine’s national identity than the man who sought to wipe it out,” the secretary said.

‘A just and lasting peace’


The world has united behind Ukraine as reflected in the February vigil in London organized by the Ukrainian and U.S embassies ahead of the one-year mark of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. (© Kin Cheung/AP)


The secretary said the United States welcomes any initiative that helps bring President Putin to the table to engage in “meaningful diplomacy” that leads to a just and lasting peace.

A just and lasting peace must:

  • Uphold the U.N. charter and affirm the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence.
  • Have Ukraine’s full participation and assent.
  • Support Ukraine’s reconstruction and recovery, with Russia paying its share.
  • Address both accountability and reconciliation.
  • End Russia’s war of aggression.

“The United States will continue to work with Ukraine, with our allies and partners — and any and all parties dedicated to supporting a just and lasting peace based on these principles,” the secretary said.

Read the full text of the secretary’s remarks.