Secretary Blinken, Senator Coons provide insight into war in Ukraine

April 18, 2022

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) joined the Ford School community to discuss the war in Ukraine for the fourth annual Vandenberg Lecture. Ford School Dean Michael Barr and Professor John Ciorciari moderated the discussions.

Senator Coons and Dean Barr kicked off the event with a conversation about the U.S.'s careful response to the war.

"We are in a very dangerous moment where it is important that, on a bipartisan and measured way, we in Congress and the administration come to a common position about when we are willing to go the next step and to send not just arms but troops to the aid in defense of Ukraine,” Coons said, as reported by Delaware Public Media. “If the answer is never then we are inviting another level of escalation in brutality by Putin."

Coons discussed how NATO nations' responses to the war are being watched and will set the scene for the coming years.

"What is happening here is being watched by other autocrats around the world. From the DPRK in Iran to obviously the PRC and Xi Jinping's leadership of the Chinese Communist Party," Coons said. "I think the future of the 21st century is going to be written in the next few weeks or months in how fiercely we are willing to defend freedom in Ukraine."

Ciorciari and Barr then welcomed Scretary Blinken, joined by three Fod School students, Hannah Kraus (MPP '22), Maheen Zahid (MPP '22), and Hanna Schechter (BA '22). 

"When it comes to what we’re seeing now in this Russian aggression against Ukraine, there are a lot of things going on...Let me just highlight a few things," Blinken said. "First, we of course have what is literally being done to people in Ukraine every single day, which is the brutalization of the country in ways that are increasingly being revealed to the world.  We saw the images that came out of Bucha just about a week ago.  As the Russian tide was being pushed back from different parts of Ukraine, we have seen what’s left in its wake.  And it’s horrifying."

He continued on to discuss the diplomatic consequences of Russia's invasion and aggression.

"But there’s another aggression going on," Blinken said.  "And that’s an aggression against some of the basic principles that undergird the international system that are necessary to try to keep peace and security around the world – principles that evolved from two world wars, that were enshrined in the UN Charter, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all sorts of founding documents at the end of the Second World War that were designed to try to make sure to the best of our ability that something like this wouldn’t happen again."

Throughout his conversation, Blinken touched on the U.S.'s response to the war, the global impact of the war, refugee policies, Chinese relations, and more. He concluded by encouraging Ford School students to come to Washington, D.C., to serve their country.

"If you are (interested in these topics), that’s exactly why we need you and want you here at the State Department because you’ll have an opportunity to help lead our country in those areas and, as a result, lead our efforts around the world to make sure that we’re trying to make the world just a little bit better, a little bit safer, a little bit more prosperous, a little bit more healthy. That’s ultimately what this is all about.  That’s what benefits our own people.  And this is a great part – a place to be a part of that."

Read the transcripts from the event and an article from DPM: