Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Mika Brzezinski, Jonathan Lemire, and Michael Barnicle of MSNBC’s Morning Joe

QUESTION:  And joining us now from Normandy, the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken.  Thank you very much for joining us here on Morning Joe.

What should our allies and enemies —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Morning, Mika.

QUESTION:  — take away from the President’s speech this morning in Normandy?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  The same resolve that the extraordinary men and women that we’re celebrating today showed then, he’s showing now.  Because they did what they did, we’re here today.  And we not only have a responsibility to honor what they did, but the real way to honor it is to make sure that we’re good in our time, in our moment, in standing up to the challenges that we face.

And one of those we see now is aggression from Russia, not only against Ukraine but against the very principles at the heart of the international system that were put in place after World War II to try to make sure that we didn’t have another world war, that we maintained peace and security.  The President’s determined to make sure we’re standing up today, just as they stood up 80 years ago.

QUESTION:  And the President talked about Ukraine as one of the current challenges that exemplified the fight against dark forces that never fade.  And he made another – yet another commitment.  He reinforced the commitment to Ukraine.

And by the way, if I may, we’re watching live pictures right now of President Biden and the First Lady walking through the cemetery in Normandy, France.  And as we look at these pictures –which really symbolize the losses 80 years ago on D-Day – and talk about the losses that Ukraine is incurring right now from the same type of aggression, the President did say that the support for Ukraine would continue, that we will be there for Ukraine.  How does that parallel with some of the reticence we have seen in Washington that actually delayed the much-needed aid Ukraine needed to push back against Russian aggression?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, you know, Mika, that aid should have gotten there a long time ago.  But I’m glad it’s there now, and it’s making a difference.  Every single day we’re pushing it out to the frontlines, making sure the Ukrainians who need it against this Russian aggression have it and can use it.

But there’s a really powerful parallel too between what we’re commemorating today and what we’re doing now.  Back then, it wasn’t just the United States.  Here in Normandy, 12 countries came together, 160,000 men coming to this beach, coming to start the final fight that ultimately, 11 months later, led to victory in World War II.  In Ukraine, we have more than 50 countries standing up, standing together, making sure that Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself and to push back this aggression.  And that’s the power of our alliances and that’s the biggest difference maker we have in the world.

Our adversaries, our competitors, they don’t have the same kind of voluntarily alliances.  Yes, sometimes they coerce countries into helping them, or maybe they pay them off.  Here we have country after country that volunteers to stand together, stand together in defense of principles that we share and know need defending.  We’re seeing that in Ukraine; we saw that 80 years ago in Normandy.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, good morning.  Jonathan Lamire.  Of course, the war in —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Jonathan.

QUESTION:  — Ukraine is the backdrop to where you are today there in Normandy.  And I wanted to get your reaction – Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has said now a few times, including last night on social media, that – he is saying that Vladimir Putin will release Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who of course is being held prisoner on espionage charges, has been so for more than a year.  And Trump suggests that Putin will do so right after the election, were Trump to win.  Can you give us a sense as to what he’s talking about?  Is there some sort of back-channel conversation between Trump and Putin, or is this sort of just dangerous and incendiary rhetoric?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Look, I don’t know what he’s talking about; I can’t speculate on it.  All I can tell you is we’re working every day to make sure that Americans who are being detained arbitrarily, whether it’s in Russia or anywhere else, come home.  And we’ve managed to bring more Americans home who are being arbitrarily detained than, I believe, any administration.  And I carry a list with me every day of the Americans who remain detained by one power or another, and we’re working every day to make sure that not another day goes by before they’re brought home to their families.  So I’m not sure what he’s referencing, but I can tell you we’re working at it every day.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, as you sat there this morning on sacred ground, you witnessed a group of veterans aged 98 to 103 struggling to stand in order to receive the Legion of Merit from both the President of the United States and the President of France.  Given the burden that the President is carrying and that you are carrying in Gaza, in the Donbas, in Kyiv, I was wondering, as you watched the ceremonies and looked at the faces of these aged veterans, what were you thinking about?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Mike, it’s – it was such an incredibly powerful moment to look at these men and to try to imagine what it was like for them 80 years ago, when they were 18, 19, 20 years old.  And I’ve got to tell you, I thought back, too, because it resonated with me – my dad then, 80 years ago, had just left college in the middle of his schoolyear to sign up for the Air Force, to prepare to go into World War II.  And somewhere else on this continent, my stepfather was incarcerated in a concentration camp, a death camp.

And the men who came here to Normandy 80 years ago and turned the tide in the war – because 11 months later, World War II was over – some of them went on to liberate those camps and liberate my stepdad.  And he was liberated by an American tank with that five-pointed white star on it, rushing up to a GI in the tank who opened the hatch – an African American GI – and he said them the only words that he knew in the English language: God bless America.  That’s what I was thinking about today.  God bless America.  God bless those men who were before us who saved the world.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, the President talked about NATO, how it’s growing, how much stronger it will become against these dark forces.  We have had a time in the United States where the commander in chief, the – at the time did not respect NATO – I’ll say it kindly – undermined it.  Can you share what’s most important about the conviction and commitment of this international Alliance?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Mika, it’s really, as I said, our comparative advantage that we can bring other countries together in common purpose so that it’s not just America alone.  It’s all of us taking on and upholding the cause of freedom.  In Ukraine, it’s more than 50 countries, not just the United States, and for everything that we’re putting into it, collectively, our partners, our allies are putting in even more.  And that’s what’s making the difference.  So to deny ourselves those alliances, those partnerships would be to shortchange our own interests and to mean that we’d either have to do everything ourselves or it wouldn’t get done.

You know, we used to have an idea after World War II called enlightened self-interest, where the investments we made in others, the work we did with others, that came back 10 times, 100 times, 1000 times to our benefit.  It meant we had new allies to deter aggression; it meant we had new partners to deal with big problems that one country can’t deal with alone.  We had new markets for our businesses and our workers to sell to.  That made sense for America.  It still makes sense for America, and President Biden is determined and – as he has been from day one to make sure that our alliances are strong, our partnerships are real, because that’s good for the country.

QUESTION:  U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, thank you very much for being on this morning, live from Normandy.  We appreciate it.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks, Mika.

QUESTION:  All right.  Take care.

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-with-mika-brzezinski-jonathan-lemire-and-michael-barnicle-of-msnbcs-morning-joe/

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