Ambassador says Russia doesn’t ‘give a s–t’ about sanctions

​Russia’s ambassador to Sweden said President Vladimir Putin doesn’t “give as–t” about sanctions that the US and its allies have threatened to slap on Moscow if it invades Ukraine.

“Excuse my language, but we don’t give as–t about all their sanctions,” Viktor Tatarintsev told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in an interview published on Saturday.

“We have already had so many sanctions and in that sense they’ve had a positive effect on our economy and agriculture,” Tatarinstsev said, adding that Russia has become “self-sufficient” and will weather any economic penalties imposed by the US and its allies.

“​We are more self-sufficient and have been able to increase our exports. We have no Italian or Swiss cheeses, but we’ve learned to make just as good Russian cheeses using Italian and Swiss recipes​,” he said.​

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, greets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before their meeting, in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan.  21, 2022.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken greets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before their meeting, in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 21, 2022.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool, File
US military personnel from the Allied nations deployed to Romania take part in a ceremony during a visit of the NATO Secretary General and Romanias President at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Military Base on February 11, 2022 in Mihail Kogalniceanu, Romania
US military personnel from the Allied nations deployed to Romania take part in a ceremony during a visit of the NATO Secretary General and Romanias President, February 11, 2022.
ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that a “diplomatic path” still exists to defuse the crisis in Ukraine despite a high-stakes hour-long call between President Biden and Putin and the US’ decision to remove US embassy staff from Kyiv.

At the same time, the Kremlin has been reinforcing the more than 100,000 troops already stationed along Ukraine’s border, is conducting joint military drills in Belarus and has bolstered its naval presence in the Black Sea.

The level of Russian forces arrayed against Ukraine has led US officials to warn that an attack could come as soon as this week.

US soldiers march during the visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase, near the Black Sea port city of Constanta, eastern Romania, Friday, Feb.  11, 2022.
The US has deployed 3,000 troops to Poland, Germany and Romania.
AP Photo/Andrea Alexandru

Blinken said he spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after the Biden-Putin conversation and reiterated that the US was open to a diplomatic resolution, but that it was also prepared to take serious steps if Russia invades.

“I raised our serious concerns that Moscow may be considering launching a military attack against Ukraine in the coming days. I made clear, as President Biden did today in his conversation with President Putin, that a path to resolving this crisis – a crisis created by the unprovoked massing of Russian forces all around Ukraine – that diplomatic diplomatic path remains open,” Blinken said late Saturday in Hawaii.

“I also underscored that if Moscow chooses the path of aggression and further invades Ukraine, the response from the United States and our allies and partners will be swift, it will be united, it will be severe,” America’s top diplomat said at a news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Antony Blinken said he spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after the President Biden-Vladimir Putin conversation.
Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP

Biden told Putin that an attack on Ukraine would be met with “swift and severe costs” during his phone call on Saturday.

“President Biden was clear that, if Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine, the United States together with our Allies and partners will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia,” the White House said in a statement.

It also said an invasion would “produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing,” adding that the US and its allies “are equally prepared for other scenarios” should diplomacy fail.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed the evacuation of US embassy personnel from Ukraine.
Kevin Lamarque/Pool Photo via AP

A Putin aide characterized the call as “balanced and businesslike” but said that the US has still not addressed Russia’s demand that Ukraine and other former Soviet states be barred from joining NATO.

A senior Biden administration official said in a briefing call after the Biden-Putin conversation that ​Russia’s aggressiveness has already created conditions that the Russian leader is trying to reverse.

Along with the NATO demand, Putin is also seeking guarantees that Western nations drawback their forces from Eastern Europe and not deploy missile systems inside Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russia’s ambassador to Sweden said President Vladimir Putin doesn’t “give as–t” about sanctions.
AP Photo/Thibault Camus, Pool, File

The administration official said the US has deployed 3,000 troops to Poland, Germany and Romania and has sent millions of dollars worth of military equipment to Ukraine because of the standoff.

On Friday, the Pentagon announced it would send an additional 3,000 troops to Poland.

“We are intensifying our efforts to deter Russia and to impose costs should it decide to go ahead with military action anyway,” the administration official said.

President Joe Biden
President Biden told Vladimir Putin that an attack on Ukraine would be met with “swift and severe costs.”
WHITE HOUSE/AFP via Getty Images

​”​Whatever Russia decides, our assessment is that their efforts to improve their strategic position are already failing and that this will only be exacerbated should they decide to take military action​,” the official continued, noting that NATO unity has been stronger than it has been for some time.

In Hawaii, Blinken addressed the evacuation of US embassy personnel from Ukraine.

“The risk of Russian military action is high enough, and the threat is imminent enough, that this is the prudent thing to do. No one should be surprised if Russia instigates a provocation or incident, which it then uses to justify military action it had planned all along,” he said​.

​”​A core team will remain in Ukraine with our dedicated Ukrainian colleagues as we continue to work relentlessly to resolve this crisis through deterrence and diplomacy. Our security assistance to Ukraine – as well as aid for other sectors like public health, economic development – ​​all of that will continue​,” Blinken said.​

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