Macron and Putin agree to trilateral talks “in the next few hours”, according to the Élysée

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby holds a press conference at the Pentagon February 14 in Arlington, Virginia. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby doubled down on the Biden administration’s strategy of using the threat of sanctions as a deterrent and dismissed growing calls for pre-invasion sanctions, saying : “[Russian President Vladimir Putin] has not yet led another invasion into Ukraine, and we still believe it is time to prevent that.”

“It’s supposed to be a deterrent. If you’re punishing someone for something they haven’t done yet, then you might as well go ahead and do it,” Kirby added. “And we hope that might affect Mr. Putin’s calculation.”

Kirby told Fox News on Sunday that Putin still had many options on the table if he chose to take a diplomatic exit route to the tensions, saying, “We’ve made serious proposals and talked about changing, for example, the scope and scale of some of our exercises in Europe, being willing to talk about offensive missile capabilities in Europe, we have certainly put forward other proposals to try to convince Mr. Putin that we are serious.

Kirby clarified that the issue of Ukraine’s NATO membership, however, is “a matter for Ukraine and for NATO. It’s not something Mr. Putin can just oppose. a veto or decide for themselves, that kind of thing is again between the alliance and Ukraine.”

A bit of context: Kirby would not address the individual claims made by Putin, but he called them “outrageous claims” and said, overall, “they simply aren’t credible.”

He said Putin was “playing the victim”, which he says is exactly out of the “Russian playbook”.

“It’s straight out of the Russian playbook. He might be moving Xs and O’s militarily in the field, but it looks like he’s using the same old playbook,” said Kirby, adding: “And I don’t want to shed light on that analogy. It’s not a football game. It’s potentially a war and lives are at stake here.


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