Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Editor in Chief Matt Murray At The Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit,

[…] Secretary Blinken:   Our focus is on continuing to do what we’ve been doing, which is to make sure that Ukraine has in its hands what it needs to defend itself, what it needs to push  back against the Russian aggression, to take back territory that’s been seized from it since February 24th, to make sure as well that it has the support economically and on a humanitarian basis to withstand what’s happening in the country every single day.  That’s our focus.

Mr Murray:  And let’s talk about the Ukrainian objective for right now.  I think a few months ago, if I remember right, I heard you and Jake Sullivan were talking at that point that part of what needed to happen for the Ukrainians was to get as much land as possible before the winter arrived to try to maximize their position on the battlefield.  So winter is now here.  The Ukrainians obviously have made great gains.  From here on out, what’s the Ukrainian objective ultimately in terms of territory?  Is it really realistic to think about the Ukrainians pushing back in Crimea?  What do you – where are they right now?

Blinken:  The first and most important thing is this:  As the President has said consistently, for us the number one principle is nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.  And that means that fundamentally Ukrainians are making the decisions about where they want to go – where they want to go, when they want to get there, how they want to do it, but with our support and the support of dozens of countries around the world.

To flip the question for a second, let’s look at what Russia has been trying to do because that will also tell you where Ukraine is trying to go.  First, Russia tried to, in effect, erase Ukraine’s identity as an independent country, to subsume it back into Russia.  That was Putin’s self-described number one objective.  That’s failed and it won’t succeed.  Then they engaged in a land grab to get as much as they could in eastern and southern Ukraine.  That, too, is now failing, as we’ve seen the Ukrainians since the summer push back in an increasingly effective way.

So the current objective is to take the war to the Ukrainian people.  Putin is directing his ire and his fire at Ukrainian civilians, trying to take out the energy infrastructure, to turn off the heat, the water, the lights, especially as Ukraine heads into winter.  So the primary challenge now for Ukraine is to resist that and of course to continue what they’re doing, which is to get back the land that’s been seized from them.

Murray:  — the support in America, I think, has been strong.  I think the administration is happy with the strength of that support.  The alliance has held together well, as we’ll discuss.  But when you – when you indicate the Ukrainians can – are really the ones to set the agenda, does that suggest open-ended U.S. commitment for Ukraine no matter where they want to go, even if that means going to Ukraine?  Can we afford and support to do that?  Or realistically is there some limit here, and do the Ukrainians know that?

Blinken:  Fundamentally they have to make these decisions and they have to make sure that they’re making informed decisions based on what their capacity is, what it can be, to achieve their objectives.  But it’s fundamentally up to the Ukrainians.  We’re committed to supporting them.  Not just us.  I just —

Murray:  And up to the end of wherever they want to take it, you’re —

Blinken:  Look, I just came back from NATO meetings in Romania and before – and on the margins of that, the G7 meetings.  The President of course has had many.  And I can tell you that the commitment to Ukraine, to helping Ukraine defend itself, to helping Ukraine deal with the Russian aggression, to helping Ukraine get back territory that was seized from it, to supporting it on a humanitarian basis, to support it economically – that commitment is strong, it’s robust, and it’s Europe, and it’s countries well beyond Europe, too. Läs intervjun