Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
Hyatt Regency Hotel
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you arrived in Ukraine after the escalation in Donbas and accumulation of huge number of Russian weapons in our borders. Russia is actually withdrawing them, but it’s not a reason to calm down. What the support can Kyiv count in this situation?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, part of the reason I’m here at President Biden’s request is to make clear the United States’ strong support for Ukraine’s independence, its sovereignty, its territorial integrity, and to tell the Ukrainian people that we stand with them. And part of that involves continuing to provide security assistance, advice as necessary, so that Ukraine can defend itself.
And I have to say we very much admire the restraint that Ukraine has shown in the face of Russian provocations and aggression – more forces built up on the border a few weeks ago than at any time since 2014, since Russia first invaded. So we’ve been very concerned about that. We’ve been watching it very carefully. And we are doing everything we can to make sure that our support and assistance to Ukraine helps it defend itself if it has to.
QUESTION: Is it possible to consider your visit as a clock check before a possible meeting between President Biden and Vladimir Putin maybe next summer?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, first, one thing that’s so important and that President Biden has made very clear to President Zelenskyy – because you know President Biden’s long involvement with and support for Ukraine and for the partnership between our countries – he’s made it very clear that we will never do anything about you without you. And certainly, that comes to any conversations that we have with Russia. So that’s another reason that I came here today, to give our analysis, give our assessment, and to hear from our partners here their analysis and assessment of the situation as well.
QUESTION: After the situation in the east Ukraine got worse, many discuss – many discussion regarding Ukraine’s entry to NATO took place. How is real this opportunity today?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, we’ve been very clear that NATO’s door remains open, and we made – NATO made commitments way back in Bucharest in 2008 in that regard. And I think what we’re seeing now and we’ve been seeing in the years since is Ukraine working more and more closely with cooperative programs, but most important, on making the reforms necessary, making the investments necessary, on developing the skills necessary, because for anyone who aspires to NATO, the criteria involve making sure that you can meet the necessary standards and add to the alliance’s security. And NATO continues to work closely with Ukraine, including through an annual program that’s very important.
QUESTION: From the very first days of Biden administration, we understand that political against Russia will be a harsh policy, yes, and sanctions are against Nord Stream and regarding Navalny, continuation of that. How do you think will this affect the situation in Ukraine somehow?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, to be clear, and – we would prefer a more stable, predictable relationship with Russia. And in fact, President Biden has said exactly that to President Putin when they spoke on the phone.
On the other hand, we’ve been equally clear that if Russia continues to take aggressive or reckless actions, whether it’s with regard to Ukraine or anywhere else that threaten our interests, we will respond – not for purposes of escalating, not for purposes of getting into a conflict, but because we can’t allow Russia’s aggressive or reckless actions to go unanswered, to go forward with impunity.
So really, the decision is up to President Putin. He can decide and Russia can decide by its actions to try to have a more predictable and stable relationship. And part of that, I hope, would involve engaging realistically and meaningfully with Ukraine to end the occupation, to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, to restore the border. But really, it’s up to Mr. – to President Putin and to Russia what direction they choose.
QUESTION: Fighting corruption, judicial reform, openness of state processes – this is a well-known list of requirement for Kyiv from Washington. How do you evaluate the quality and the pace of Ukrainian reforms?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, Ukraine faces two challenges: It faces external aggression from Russia; but it also faces internal aggression from corruption, from oligarchs who put their interests ahead of the interests of the Ukrainian people. And Russia uses that internal aggression for its own purposes as well. So I think the Ukrainian people have a strong interest in reforming, in strong institutions, in transparency, in the independence of these institutions, so that they can do their jobs, including the anticorruption bureau, including judges and a strong judiciary, including the people who oversee the state-owned companies and enterprises.
And I would say there’s been some real important progress, including legislation on reforming immunities for parliamentarians, legislation protecting against people illicitly getting money, the land reform. Those are positive. But there’s clearly a need for more progress on things like corporate governance, on judicial reform, on making sure that the anticorruption bureau is truly independent.
And those reforms are important because, first, it’s for the Ukrainian people. This will help them. It will benefit them. It will really give – make sure they are sovereign, not any outside actor or not any individual inside actors. It’s also important because the international community, other countries, want to work with Ukraine, want to invest here, but they are also looking to make sure that the climate is as good as possible for those investments and for that engagement.
So we had good conversations with President Zelenskyy, with the prime minister, with leaders of the Rada about the reform program. And we strongly support Ukraine’s efforts to do more and to pursue reforms.
QUESTION: It is in the context of the Ukrainian reforms, the last situation in – at Naftogaz. I mean, management change and violation of corporate governance. What do you think this situation can impact to the investment climate and cooperation with IMF?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, honestly, it sent a bad message, a bad signal, and I think it had the potential to be damaging to Ukraine’s reputation internationally. But I think – my own sense is that the government understands that and hopefully will move forward on corporate governance with Naftogaz but also with other big state-owned enterprises to make sure that that governance is independent, is transparent, and is looking out for the interests of the Ukrainian people.
QUESTION: This autumn is 80th anniversary of tragedy in Babi Yar. And I know this Holocaust topic is very important for Biden administration, so can we expect someone from Washington to this anniversary to Kyiv?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: I think that’s very likely, and the Yevtushenko and the poem is something very powerful that many Americans know as well. And I think it’s very important that that episode in our history be commemorated, never forgotten, and reminds us of our obligations today to protect the human rights of all people.
QUESTION: And my last question: I know you have roots from Ukraine, maybe in childhood somebody from your family tell you about Ukraine. Do you remember something?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, my father’s father, my grandfather, was born here and lived here until he was six or seven years old – this is at the turn of the last century – and then went to the United States. So – but he was too young to really, really remember. His father, my great-grandfather, also is from Ukraine, but of course, I didn’t know him. But I – my grandfather certainly talked to me about the roots that the family has here.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you and welcome to Kyiv.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much.
Greetings I’m Sam.
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- Financial Audit: Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s FY 2020 Schedules of the General FundBy Sam NewsApril 15, 2021What GAO Found Deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting and other limitations on the scope of GAO's work resulted in conditions that prevented GAO from expressing an opinion on the Schedules of the General Fund as of and for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020. Such scope limitations also prevented GAO from obtaining sufficient appropriate audit evidence to provide a basis for an opinion on the effectiveness of the Bureau of the Fiscal Service's (Fiscal Service) internal control over financial reporting relevant to the Schedules of the General Fund as of September 30, 2020. In addition, such scope limitations limited tests of compliance with selected provisions of applicable laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements for fiscal year 2020. Fiscal Service was unable to readily provide sufficient appropriate evidence to support certain information reported in the accompanying Schedules of the General Fund. Specifically, Fiscal Service was unable to readily (1) identify and trace General Fund transactions to determine whether they were complete and properly recorded in the correct general ledger accounts and line items within the Schedules of the General Fund and (2) provide documentation to support the account attributes assigned to Treasury Account Symbols that determine how transactions are reported in the Schedules of the General Fund. The resulting scope limitations, the first of which GAO reported in its fiscal year 2018 audit, are the basis for GAO's disclaimer of opinion on the Schedules of the General Fund. As a result of these limitations, GAO cautions that amounts Fiscal Service reported in the Schedules of the General Fund and related notes may not be reliable. Three significant deficiencies in Fiscal Service's internal control over financial reporting relevant to the Schedules of the General Fund, which GAO reported in its fiscal year 2018 audit, continue to exist. One of the continuing significant deficiencies contributed to the first scope limitation discussed above. In addition, GAO identified four other control deficiencies, three newly identified and one reported in its fiscal year 2018 audit, which GAO does not consider to be material weaknesses or significant deficiencies. Fiscal Service worked extensively, both internally and with other federal agencies, to address two scope limitations from GAO's fiscal year 2018 audit, such that GAO no longer considers these to be scope limitations for fiscal year 2020. Fiscal Service also (1) took action to close six of the 12 recommendations that GAO issued as a result of its fiscal year 2018 audit, (2) is implementing plans for remediating the remaining six recommendations over the next few years, and (3) plans to develop corrective actions for the three new recommendations issued in this report. Fiscal Service expressed its commitment to remediating the scope limitations and significant deficiencies reported for fiscal year 2020, acknowledging that it expects to take several years to resolve them, given the nature and complexity of certain identified issues. In addition, GAO is issuing a separate LIMITED OFFICIAL USE ONLY report on information systems controls. Why GAO Did This Study Because GAO audits the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government and the significance of the General Fund of the United States (General Fund) to the government-wide financial statements, GAO audited the fiscal year 2020 Schedules of the General Fund to determine whether, in all material respects, (1) the schedules are fairly presented and (2) Fiscal Service management maintained effective internal control over financial reporting relevant to the Schedules of the General Fund. Further, GAO tested compliance with selected provisions of laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements related to the Schedules of the General Fund. As the reporting entity responsible for accounting for the cash activity of the U.S. government, in fiscal year 2020, the General Fund reported over $23 trillion of cash inflows and nearly $22 trillion of cash outflows. It also reported a budget deficit of $3.1 trillion, the largest recorded federal deficit in history. The CARES Act, enacted in March 2020, and other COVID-19 pandemic relief laws, contained a number of funding provisions that resulted in a significant increase in the cash activity and budget deficit reported by the General Fund during fiscal year 2020.[Read More…]
- Nuclear Security Enterprise: NNSA Should Use Portfolio Management Leading Practices to Support Modernization EffortsBy Sam NewsJune 10, 2021What GAO Found The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has partially implemented selected leading practices to manage the work necessary to maintain and modernize the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile. GAO found that NNSA is in the early stages of initiating its portfolio management processes and has partially implemented leading practices, such as establishing a clearly defined portfolio of work. For example, NNSA officials stated that its Weapons Activities appropriations account is a portfolio of work. However, NNSA has not developed clearly defined and appropriately empowered governance roles, such as a portfolio manager, for its Weapons Activities portfolio. As NNSA continues to develop its approach to portfolio management, establishing a portfolio management framework—consistent with selected leading practices—may allow NNSA to fully implement all leading practices, better define how program offices will pursue strategic stockpile modernization objectives, and optimize portfolio performance in the event that budget trade-offs become necessary. NNSA's offices have undertaken four separate efforts to identify and assess the capabilities needed across the nuclear security enterprise to meet its stockpile maintenance and modernization mission, but NNSA has not developed a comprehensive or complete capability assessment that could support its portfolio management approach (see fig.). NNSA undertook three of these four independent efforts to identify and assess capabilities in response to different legislative direction and did not incorporate information on all elements of a capability (knowledge, human capital, and infrastructure) in any of the individual efforts. Working across the agency to conduct a comprehensive, complete capability assessment would provide NNSA with a portfolio-level view of the enterprise's capabilities and needs, allowing for planning that considers interdependencies that have been missed in the past when planning focused on individual programs or projects. Relationship between Capability Assessment and Portfolio Management Why GAO Did This Study NNSA is simultaneously modernizing the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile and the infrastructure on which weapons research and production programs depend. These efforts include multi-billion-dollar defense programs and projects that provide the capabilities needed for maintenance and modernization programs. Congress previously directed NNSA to identify its needed capabilities. The Senate report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 includes a provision for GAO to review NNSA's approach to managing its defense programs and to identifying capabilities. This report examines the extent to which NNSA (1) used selected portfolio management leading practices to manage its maintenance and modernization programs and projects and (2) developed a comprehensive and complete capability assessment to support portfolio management. GAO reviewed NNSA documentation related to portfolio management and capabilities and compared it with leading practices and legislative requirements. GAO also interviewed NNSA officials from six agency offices.[Read More…]
- 2020 END Wildlife Trafficking ReportBy Sam NewsNovember 7, 2020Bureau of Oceans and [Read More…]
- Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Report 2020By Sam NewsNovember 6, 2020
- Justice Department Issues Favorable Business Review Letter To ISDA For Proposed Amendments To Address Interest Rate BenchmarksBy Sam NewsOctober 1, 2020The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division announced today that it has completed its review of the proposal by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association Inc. (ISDA) to amend its standardized model documentation for derivatives to account for the potential discontinuation of certain interbank offered rates (collectively referred to as “IBORs”). The department has concluded, based on the representations in ISDA’s letter request, including its description of certain safeguards, that ISDA’s proposed amendments to its standardized documentation are unlikely to harm competition. Therefore, the department does not presently intend to challenge ISDA’s proposed amendments to its standardized documentation for derivatives.[Read More…]
- Recycling: Building on Existing Federal Efforts Could Help Address Cross-Cutting ChallengesBy Sam NewsDecember 18, 2020Based on GAO analysis of stakeholder views, five cross-cutting challenges affect the U.S. recycling system: (1) contamination of recyclables; (2) low collection of recyclables; (3) limited market demand for recyclables; (4) low profitability for operating recycling programs; and (5) limited information to support decision-making about recycling. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) most recent data show that less than a quarter of the waste generated in the United States is collected for recycling (69 million of 292 million tons) and is potentially available, along with new materials, to make new products (see fig.). Estimated Generation and Disposition of Waste in the United States, as of 2018 EPA, the Departments of Commerce (Commerce) and Energy, and the Federal Trade Commission have taken actions that advance recycling, such as collecting data and awarding grants for research on recycling technologies. However, EPA has not conducted studies or developed recommendations for administrative or legislative action on the effect of existing public policies on recycling, as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requires. Conducting these studies would provide Congress with information to better evaluate the effect of different policies on U.S. recycling efforts. In addition, Commerce is not fully meeting its RCRA requirement to stimulate the development of markets for recycled materials because it has not taken actions to stimulate domestic markets, as GAO recommended in 2006. Commerce officials stated that their work to stimulate international markets fulfills Commerce's obligations under RCRA. Congress may need to act to clarify Commerce's responsibilities under RCRA or assign responsibility for stimulating domestic markets to another agency. By taking action, Congress can ensure a federal response to the reduction in international demand for U.S. recyclables. EPA has taken several actions to plan and coordinate national efforts to advance recycling, such as releasing a draft national recycling strategy in October 2020. However, EPA has not incorporated some desirable characteristics for effective national strategies, identified in prior GAO work. By better incorporating such characteristics as it finalizes and implements its draft strategy, EPA will have greater assurance of the strategy's usefulness in making resource and policy decisions and will better ensure accountability for its implementation. In 1976, Congress sought to reduce solid waste and encourage recycling as part of RCRA, which gave primary responsibility for recycling to states and municipalities but requires EPA and Commerce to take specific actions. The United States generated almost 1,800 pounds of waste per capita in 2018. Recycling rates for common recyclables, such as paper, plastics, glass, and some metals, remain low. Furthermore, recent international import restrictions have reduced demand for U.S. exports of recyclables. GAO was asked to review federal efforts that advance recycling in the United States. This report examines (1) cross-cutting challenges affecting recycling in the United States, (2) actions that selected federal agencies have taken that advance recycling, and (3) actions EPA has taken to plan and coordinate national efforts to advance recycling. GAO reviewed laws and agency documents; and interviewed federal officials and nonfederal stakeholders, such as states, municipalities, and industry representatives, selected for their expertise and efforts to advance recycling. GAO is making one matter for congressional consideration to clarify a RCRA requirement for Commerce or to assign responsibility for stimulating domestic markets to another agency; and three recommendations to EPA, including that it take actions to fulfill certain RCRA requirements. EPA concurred with GAO's recommendations. For more information, contact J. Alfredo Gómez at (202) 512-3841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Compounding Pharmacy Mogul Sentenced for Multimillion-Dollar Health Care Fraud SchemeBy Sam NewsJanuary 15, 2021A Mississippi businessman was sentenced today for his role in a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud TRICARE, the health care benefit program serving U.S. military, veterans, and their respective family members, as well as private health care benefit programs.[Read More…]
- ‘Disk Detective’ Needs Your Help Finding Disks Where Planets FormBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Members of the public [Read More…]
- Statement of Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen Regarding Nationwide Safety and Security for Inauguration DayBy Sam NewsJanuary 19, 2021Tomorrow, the Nation and the world will witness an orderly and peaceful transfer of power in the United States, as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court swears in President-Elect Biden. Throughout our Nation’s proud history, this ceremony has served as a beacon of democracy and a testament to the enduring strength of our Constitution.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down San Diego Return PreparerBy Sam NewsMay 13, 2021The United States has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California seeking to bar a San Diego tax return preparer from owning or operating a tax return preparation business and preparing federal income tax returns for others.[Read More…]
- Wrongful billing results in $2.6M settlement and 10-year exclusion from federal health care programsBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsJune 8, 2021A 46-year-old [Read More…]
- United States and United Kingdom Sign Civil Air Transport AgreementBy Sam NewsNovember 17, 2020
- Civil Monetary Penalties: Federal Agencies’ Compliance with the 2020 Annual Inflation Adjustment RequirementsBy Sam NewsMay 28, 2021What GAO Found In this fifth annual review, GAO found that the majority of federal agencies that could be subject to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended (IAA), have complied with the provisions of the act to publish 2020 civil monetary penalty inflation adjustments in the Federal Register and report related information in their 2020 agency financial reports (AFR), or equivalent. However, two agencies did not publish inflation adjustments in the Federal Register as of December 31, 2020, and did not report the required information in their 2020 AFRs for one or more of their civil monetary penalties. Why GAO Did This Study The IAA includes a provision, added in 2015, requiring GAO to annually submit to Congress a report assessing agencies' compliance with the annual inflation adjustments required by the act. This is the fifth annual report responding to this requirement. For more information, contact Paula M. Rascona at (202) 512-9816 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Man Charged with Attempting to Provide Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist OrganizationBy Sam NewsJune 1, 2021A Washington man was arrested on Friday, May 28, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on criminal charges related to his alleged efforts to join Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization, in order to engage in violent acts of terrorism in the Middle East or the United States.[Read More…]
- Sécurité Sanitaire Mondiale: Financements, activités et évaluations de l’USAID et des CDC relatifs aux capacités des pays à faire face aux menaces des maladies infectieuses avant l’apparition du COVID-19By Sam NewsApril 14, 2021This is the French language highlights associated with GAO-21-359. Constats du GAO Au 31 mars 2020, l’Agence des États-Unis pour le développement international (USAID) et les Centres des États-Unis pour le contrôle et la prévention des maladies (CDC) ensemble avaient alloué un total de plus de 1,2 milliard de dollars et avaient décaissé environ 1 milliard pour financer des activités de sécurité sanitaire mondiale (global health security - GHS), sur des fonds affectés durant les années fiscales 2015 à 2019. L’USAID et les CDC ont soutenu des activités de renforcement des capacités des pays dans 11 domaines techniques en rapport avec la lutte contre les maladies infectieuses. Les fonds engagés ont soutenu des activités de GHS dans pas moins de 34 pays, dont 25 étaient partenaires du Programme d’action pour la sécurité sanitaire mondiale (Global Health Security Agenda - GHSA). Activités soutenues par les États-Unis en Éthiopie pour renforcer la sécurité sanitaire mondiale Les évaluations de responsables officiels des États-Unis portant sur les capacités de 17 pays partenaires du GHSA à faire face aux menaces des maladies infectieuses révèlent qu’à la fin de l’année fiscale 2019, la plupart de ces pays avaient des capacités dans chacun des 11 domaines techniques retenus mais connaissaient diverses difficultés. Les équipes-pays interinstitutionnelles américaines réalisent des évaluations de capacités bisannuelles dont le personnel du siège de l’USAID et des CDC se sert pour assurer un suivi des progrès des pays. Selon les évaluations de l’année fiscale 2019, 14 pays avaient développé ou démontré des capacités dans la plupart des domaines techniques. Les rapports ont démontré par ailleurs que la plupart des capacités de ces pays étaient restées stables ou avaient augmenté par rapport à 2016 et 2017. C’est dans le domaine technique de la résistance aux antimicrobiens qu’ont été enregistrées les plus fortes augmentations de capacités, par exemple dans la mise en place de systèmes de surveillance. Dans son analyse des rapports, le GAO a constaté que les difficultés les plus fréquentes en matière de renforcement des capacités de GHS étaient les faiblesses des institutions de l’État et le manque de ressources et de capital humain. Selon des responsables officiels, certaines de ces difficultés peuvent être résolues par plus de financement, d’assistance technique ou d’efforts diplomatiques des États-Unis, mais beaucoup d’autres restent en dehors du control du gouvernement des États-Unis. Ceci est une version publique d’un rapport confidentiel émis par le GAO en février 2021; les informations jugées sensibles par l’USAID et les CDC en ont été omises. Pourquoi cette étude du GAO La survenue de la maladie à coronavirus (COVID-19) en décembre 2019 a démontré que les maladies infectieuses peuvent causer des pertes de vie catastrophiques et infliger des dommages durables à l’économie mondiale. L’USAID et les CDC dirigent les efforts déployés par les États-Unis pour renforcer la sécurité sanitaire mondiale, à savoir la capacité mondiale à se préparer à lutter contre les maladies infectieuses, à les détecter et à y riposter, ainsi qu’à réduire ou à prévenir leur propagation sur le plan international. Ces efforts comprennent des activités liées au GHSA, qui vise à accélérer l’obtention de progrès en matière de respect des règlements et autres accords mondiaux relatifs à la santé. Le rapport 114-693 de la Chambre des représentants prévoyait un examen, par le Government Accountability Office (GAO), de l’emploi des fonds de GHS. Dans ce rapport, le GAO examine, pour les 5 années fiscales précédant le début de la pandémie de COVID-19 : 1) l’état des financements et des activités de l’USAID et des CDC relatifs à la GHS et 2) des évaluations d’organismes des États -Unis, réalisées à la fin de l’année fiscale 2019, portant sur les capacités des pays partenaires du GHSA à faire face aux menaces des maladies infectieuses et sur les difficultés que ces pays ont dû relever pour renforcer leurs capacités. Le GAO a analysé des documents d’organismes des États-Unis et d’organismes internationaux. Le GAO a aussi interviewé des responsables officiels à Washington et à Atlanta (Géorgie) ainsi qu’en Ethiopie, en Indonésie, au Sénégal et au Viet Nam. Le GAO a choisi ces pays sur la base de critères tels que la présence de personnel de multiples organismes des États-Unis. Le GAO a également analysé des évaluations interinstitutionnelles des capacités des pays à faire face aux menaces des maladies infectieuses durant l’année fiscale 2019 et les a comparées aux données de référence de 2016 et 2017. Pour plus d’informations, s’adresser à David Gootnick au (202) 512-3149 ou à firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting with Slovenian Foreign Minister LogarBy Sam NewsDecember 8, 2020
- Department Press Briefing – March 5, 2021By Sam NewsMarch 5, 2021Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
- Couple Who Falsely Claimed to be Farmers Sentenced in $1.1 Million COVID-Relief FraudBy Sam NewsJune 2, 2021More from: June 2, 2021 [Read More…]
- Indonesia Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Do not travel Indonesia [Read More…]