(AGENPARL) – mer 28 settembre 2022 You are subscribed to Collected Releases for U.S. Department of State. This information has recently been updated, and is now available.
09/28/2022 07:39 PM EDT
Ned Price, Department Spokesperson
2:17 p.m. EDT
 MR PRICE: Good afternoon, everyone. Another full house today; very good to see. I understand the house is particularly full because we have some guests today, some graduate students from American University who are here to observe. So I must ask that everyone be on their best behavior. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Why do you look at me?
MR PRICE: Before —
QUESTION: I’m always on my best —
MR PRICE: Before we get to your questions, let me say a few things at the top. First, Russia has now announced the pre-baked results of its sham referenda. These results were concocted in Moscow, not collected in Ukraine. Let’s be clear: The results are completely fabricated and do not reflect the will of the people of Ukraine. This is the will of Moscow, not the free will of Ukraine or its people.
Because we’ve seen this movie before, we know what will come next. We expect Russia to use these sham referenda as a false pretext to attempt to annex Ukraine’s territory.
But no matter what President Putin and his enablers try to claim, these areas are and will remain part of Ukraine. Ukraine has every right to continue to defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity.
The United States will never recognize Russia’s attempts to annex parts of Ukraine. Quite the opposite. We will continue to work with allies and partners to bring even more pressure on Russia and the individuals and entities that are helping support its attempted land grab. You can expect additional measures from us in the coming days. At the same time, we will not be deterred from supporting Ukraine, and as my colleagues at the White House and soon the Defense Department will announce, we will continue to provide security assistance to Ukraine so it can defend itself and its sovereign territory for as long as it takes.
 Next, we are deeply concerned by the deteriorating security situation in the West Bank. This year alone, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and more than 30 in Gaza, while more than 20 Israelis and other civilians have been killed in terrorist attacks.
We call on all parties to do everything in their power to de-escalate the situation and return to a period of calm. This is in the interest of all Israelis and Palestinians. As we have said for some time, we call on the parties themselves to contain the violence. The United States and other international partners stand ready to help but we cannot substitute for vital actions by the parties to mitigate conflict and to restore calm.
 And finally, I am pleased to announce that Secretary Blinken has designated Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Monica Medina as special envoy for biodiversity and water resources. She will take on the special envoy designation in addition to her current responsibilities.
The months ahead are essential for advancing efforts to confront the loss of nature and rising water insecurity crises, as there is a unique confluence of global events that will determine the health of the planet for generations to come. Special Envoy Medina will be uniquely positioned to coordinate an all-of-government effort to address these crises – leveraging the talent and expertise in the department as well as across the federal government.
With that, turn to your questions.
QUESTION: Great. Thanks, Ned. On your first – two things on your – your very first opening remarks. The – I presume from what you said that should Russia go ahead and – after the referendum and annex these parts – these four parts of Ukraine, that the U.S. guidance or perhaps prohibition on Ukraine using U.S.-supplied weaponry to launch attacks into those areas will not – it won’t apply. Is that correct?
MR PRICE: So since the start of this conflict, and in fact even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, we have provided our Ukrainian partners with the supplies, with the systems that they need to do one thing – that is to defend themselves, to defend their independence, to defend their sovereignty, to defend their territorial integrity. We have provided different systems and supplies at every stage of this conflict, contouring the nature of that assistance and the specifics of it to precisely the battle that our Ukrainian partners were facing at the time. It was true as the Ukrainians were fighting for their capital city, Kyiv. It was true as they won that battle of Kyiv. It was true and it is true as the fighting has intensified in the south and the east. And now that Ukraine is mounting its effective – and heretofore successful – counteroffensive in the north and the south as well, we’ve done the same. At every step of the way, we’ve been very clear that everything we’re providing is for the defense of Ukraine’s own territory, the defense of its sovereignty, the defense of its independence, the defense of its territorial integrity. We have been clear when it comes to certain longer-range systems with our Ukrainian partners that these systems are for use on sovereign Ukrainian territory. If and when this annexation occurs, as we expect it will, these areas will remain sovereign Ukrainian territory.
QUESTION: Okay. And that also applies to Crimea. Right?
MR PRICE: Crimea is Ukraine. Obviously —
QUESTION: Okay. So then you would have no objections to the Ukrainians using your weaponry to launch strikes on Russian targets in Crimea, either.
MR PRICE: We don’t select targets for our Ukrainian partners. It is up to them to devise —
QUESTION: I know. I’m just saying – well, you – but you told – you’ve told – but you’ve told them that you don’t want them to use your weaponry to launch strikes into Russia, what is Russia now. Correct?
MR PRICE: And Crimea is not Russia. But —
QUESTION: I know. So —
MR PRICE: But I mean —
QUESTION: So why haven’t – so it’s all on the Ukrainians that they haven’t launched – used U.S. weapons to attack Crimea?
MR PRICE: I think what we can say for the Ukrainians is – well, in the first instance I will let the Ukrainians speak to their military strategy. But just at a very high level, I think we’ve seen the effectiveness of the strategy that undergirds their counter-offensive. The fact that within hours of launching it in August they retook hundreds and subsequently thousands of square miles of territory that Russia had for a time, at least, wrested from them – their military strategy is their military strategy. The targets they select are the targets they select.
Now, of course, our Department of Defense is a source of guidance and can provide advice and counsel, just as we provide advice and counsel when it comes to questions of foreign policy and broader questions of national security.
QUESTION: All right. And then lastly, and your colleague at the White House just went – spoke about this in depth, so I just want to ask you about it – the Nord Stream explosion/leaks. We saw last night that the Secretary had a conversation with the Danish foreign minister about this. Has he had any additional conversations specifically related to these incidents? And if he has or even if he hasn’t, has there been any change in your assessment of what happened?
MR PRICE: So you’re right. The Secretary last night did have an opportunity to speak to his Danish counterpart, Foreign Minister Kofod. Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor, had an opportunity last night to speak to his Danish counterpart as well. The Secretary, I would expect within the coming day, potentially as soon as later today, will have an opportunity to speak to other European partners regarding what seem to be apparent acts of sabotage against the Nord Stream pipeline.
We have seen the statements from our Danish partners and from others. We are supporting European efforts to investigate this, and we’re also – we also stand ready to support European efforts to mitigate any potential environmental impact. As you know, the energy impact of this apparent sabotage is and was mitigated by the fact that neither Nord Stream 2, which of course was never operational, and Nord Stream 1, because the Russians had already weaponized Nord Stream 1 by essentially turning it off – neither of these pipelines were pumping gas into Europe at the time. And so, of course, the impacts on Europe’s broader energy security and energy resilience will therefore be mitigated.
QUESTION: Well, in the short term.
MR PRICE: In the short term.
QUESTION: So who do you suspect – who is behind it? And I welcome the student from AU, of course. So who – you suspect anyone did this?
MR PRICE: We have more questions than answers at this point, Said. We’re not going to get ahead of the investigation. An investigation like this, owing to the nature of the investigation, — underwater, for one – could well take time. So we’re going to allow the investigation to play out before we start to lay out theories or hypotheses.
QUESTION: But you call it apparent sabotage. You used the word “apparent.”
MR PRICE: That’s right.
QUESTION: So what are you basing that on exactly? Just your conversations with the European counterparts, or do you have other information? Then why are you not ready to go a little bit further than that?
MR PRICE: We’re basing it primarily on the conversations that we’ve had with our European partners. They, of course, are much closer to the site of this apparent sabotage. We are, as part of our assistance to the investigation, sharing information we may have on these acts, on these apparent acts of sabotage. But this moniker, “apparent sabotage,” is based on what we know but primarily what we’re hearing from our European counterparts.
QUESTION: If it did turn out to be sabotage by a nation state, do you think that could rise to the level of NATO Article 5 infringement?
MR PRICE: Again, that is a hypothetical perhaps wrapped within another hypothetical, so I just wouldn’t want to entertain it at this point. There is an investigation that’s underway. We’re prepared to support that investigation. We’re prepared to support the environmental mitigation efforts, the efforts to mitigate the environmental impact, but I just wouldn’t want to weigh in before any conclusion is reached in that investigation.
QUESTION: If this turns out to be sabotage, how vulnerable the alternative pipelines are, do you think? And will the U.S. step up and help countries such as Norway, Azerbaijan, and others to boost up the security of their pipelines?
Secondly, there are reports that the U.S. actually did see this coming. There were some intelligence reports and the U.S. did inform Germans and others. Are you in a position to confirm or deny those reports?
MR PRICE: Of course, I’m not in a position to speak to any intelligence, or any intelligence that may have been passed to Germany or any other ally. What we did see coming, what many countries around the world saw coming, was Russia’s attempts – broadly speaking, not speaking to events of the past 24 hours, but broadly speaking – to weaponize energy. And we’ve seen that since the earliest days of this conflict. We’ve seen that since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
You asked what we are prepared to do when it comes to Europe’s energy security and energy resilience. Well, let me just remind you of what we are already doing. We’ve been deeply engaged in this task again – even prior to February 24th. We have worked with our European partners and European allies to surge LNG supplies, oftentimes in cooperation with partners on the other side of the world. Countries such as Japan have been in a position to help us surge LNG supplies to Europe. Various countries have tapped their own strategic petroleum reserves. We’ve done that to an unprecedented tune in recent months. U.S. oil production is up by more than 500,000 barrels per day. Our LNG exports, oftentimes to Europe, are up more than 20 percent since last year. We became the largest – this year we became the largest LNG supplier both to the EU and to the UK. And we will become the overall largest global LNG exporter this year.
That is what we’re doing in the short term. What we have been doing – knowing, as I alluded to before, that the Russians could seek to weaponize energy as part of their aggression against Ukraine – over the longer term, because as you alluded to, or someone alluded to, and I think it was you in your question – this will be a longer-term challenge. This is not a challenge that will only be with us for the coming weeks or through this winter; this will be something that we’ll have to confront year after year. That is in large part why President Biden and President von der Leyen of the – of the EU set up a taskforce earlier this year to work on energy security issues. And as you know, through various auspices and mechanisms, we are working with partners not only in Europe but around the world to lessen our dependence on Russian energy – Russia, of course, has proven itself to be a wholly unreliable energy supplier – but also to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels as we accelerate that transition to renewables, which will also be part of the answer.
QUESTION: Has the U.S. been formally asked to assist in that investigation? And then separately, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow warned American citizens that Russia may not recognize dual nationality when it comes to mass mobilization and conscription. And I’m just wondering whether you’ve seen evidence that this is occurring, that Americans are being conscripted or being denied consular access.
MR PRICE: So a couple points. On your first question, we have been in close touch with our Danish partners since reports of this started to emerge. Beyond the Secretary – and I meant to note this earlier – beyond the Secretary, senior officials in this building have engaged with their Danish partners, others – other partners and allies in the region as well. We have offered assistance for any environmental response, but we haven’t yet received any such requests for assistance from our Danish partners. As I said before, we’re already sharing information that is in our possession regarding these apparent acts of sabotage, and we’ll continue to do that.
When it comes to your question on – regarding Russia, we did – our embassy in Moscow did issue a security alert last night Washington time – Eastern time, at least – notified U.S. citizens about Russia’s mobilization of Russia’s citizens to the armed forces in support of its invasion in Ukraine. Of course, we are concerned about potential implications for dual U.S.-Russian nationals. We’re not yet aware of any reports of dual U.S.-Russian nationals who have been called or conscripted into service as a result of this. But the security alert that you saw last night was triggered primarily by President Putin’s so-called partial mobilization, the 300,000 additional Russian citizens who President Putin is seeking to enlist in his brutal war in Ukraine. A consequence of that mobilization is, one, the possibility of conscription of dual nationals – in this case, dual U.S.-Russian nationals.
But as we’ve seen, this call for a partial mobilization has also engendered protests across Russia. And of course, we have concern that any Americans could be caught up in such acts; they could be specifically targeted. We’ve previously made clear our concerns that Americans have been specifically targeted because of their American nationality by Russian security officials. So that, too, is a concern. But we are not yet aware of any Americans who have been arrested as part of the demonstrations in response to the partial mobilization.
QUESTION: As it relates to conscription, though – I mean, you noted the other day that Edward Snowden might now be subject to it. You haven’t heard anything about him being conscripted, have you? And you would still urge him, as with other Americans, to come back home? So he has the – he has the opportunity to stay in Russia and potentially be conscripted or come back and be put on trial, right?
MR PRICE: So we have issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory for Russia since last August. Starting in February —
QUESTION: He wasn’t a Russian citizen until just the other day. He wasn’t a dual citizen until just the other day.
MR PRICE: No, of course, and I’m not talking to any specific American citizen at this point. I may come to that. But then, of course, in February we urged all American citizens not only not to travel to Russia, but those American citizens who were in Russia to leave Russia.
When it comes to Mr. Snowden, our position on him has been consistent. It has been clear. He should return to the United States where he would be afforded due process, which, by the way, is not a right he would be afforded were he to stay in Russia and to be accused of a crime there.
QUESTION: Can I change topics?
MR PRICE: Sure.
QUESTION: I want to go to where you began or the second item about the possible violence erupting in the West Bank, and in fact there was an interview with Ambassador Nides where he actually warns against such a thing. But I tell you, I mean, the Palestinians don’t have much hope other than perhaps resort to violence. They keep hitting a brick wall. I mean, you talk about both sides. Now, only one side occupies the other, torments the other, and so on. Even the most modest of actions – well, to sort of follow through on your commitment to the two-state solution, which is the reopening of the consulate that was open and so on – it’s not open. So what do you say to the Palestinians that are almost hopeless?
MR PRICE: Said, I will start where you started, because that has been a core premise of our policy: to afford a greater degree of hope, a greater degree of opportunity to the Palestinian people. Now, the first element of that was re-engaging with the Palestinian Authority, re‑engaging with the Palestinian people, something we did nearly as soon as we came into offer – into office. Re-engagement, of course, is only one part of that.
What is perhaps more meaningful when it comes to that hope and that opportunity is what we have provided, what we have been in a sense – in a sense able to deliver to and for the Palestinian people. And in addition to the more than half-billion dollars the United States has provided to the Palestinian people since January of 2021, when this administration came into office, President Biden when he was in the region in May announced an additional $316 million to support the Palestinian people when he was in the West Bank. And last week, this department, we were in a position to announce nearly $64 million, additional funding for UNRWA providing health care, providing emergency relief to hundreds of thousands of potentially vulnerable Palestinian children and families.
Together, this brings total support in 2022 to nearly $350 million. It brings our total assistance to the Palestinian people to some $680 million since April of 2021. This assistance, of course, is not a panacea. This is assistance that can help to do what we talked about the other day – to lay the predicate for greater levels of opportunity and optimism and opportunity and hope for the Palestinian people so that this can be cemented and ultimately can translate into progress in what is our ultimate goal, and that’s the two-state solution, a negotiated two-state solution negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians.
QUESTION: That’s all well and good and so on, the money, and I’m sure the Palestinians appreciate that. You keep saying you want Palestinians and Israelis to enjoy the same level of dignity. I mean, they look – the Palestinians look at what you have done with, let’s say, the Shireen Abu Akleh case. I mean, you have sanctions the Iranian morality police, as you should have, because a young woman died in their custody and so on. Palestinians die in Israeli custody all the time. You have not spoken about – I mean, you’ve spoken about Shireen Abu Akleh; you have not pursued any kind of independent investigation. And as far as they’re concerned, this issue is dead. It’s gone.
So, I mean, they look at your actions and they lose faith, Ned.
MR PRICE: Said, it is extraordinarily difficult to compare cases like this, and I can spend just a moment —
QUESTION: Yeah, but in principle.
MR PRICE: — talking about the profound differences between the case, between the two cases that you referenced.
With Mahsa Amini in Iran – a young woman who was arrested for exercising what should have been a universal right to freedom of expression, in this case specifically the right to determine for herself her appearance, what she chose to wear – she was arrested by the so-called morality police. Within days she was dead. Of course we took a firm response in the form of sanctions and the efforts we’ve taken to support the universal right of the Iranian people to have their voices heard.
When it comes to the tragic killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, we of course spoke out within – at the first opportunity, upon learning of her – of her killing. We – our U.S. security coordinator worked very closely with Palestinian authorities, worked very closely with the IDF, and ultimately not only did the IDF but also the U.S. security coordinator came to a number of conclusions, one of which was the fact that there was – appeared to be no intentionality behind her killing.
So I think these cases are different on – for a number of reasons. We always speak out in favor of universal rights. We always speak out in favor of the human rights of people around the world. It’s no different whether that’s within Israel, whether that’s in the West Bank, in Gaza, or in Iran for that matter.
QUESTION: Okay. But just one —
QUESTION: They’re also different because Shireen Abu Akleh was a U.S. citizen.
MR PRICE: Correct.
QUESTION: But you didn’t mention that.
MR PRICE: Of course. She was a U.S. citizen.
QUESTION: Well, yeah, but —
MR PRICE: Of course.
QUESTION: — you didn’t mention that in your little spiel there. Respond.
MR PRICE: It is —
QUESTION: Okay, so you —
QUESTION: Can I —
MR PRICE: Let me move around because —
QUESTION: Ned, one —
MR PRICE: — we have many people here today.
QUESTION: — last thing. One last thing.
MR PRICE: Said, we have many —
QUESTION: Please, Ned.
MR PRICE: Yes, go ahead.
QUESTION: Please, Ned.
QUESTION: You put —
MR PRICE: Go ahead, Guita.
QUESTION: You put out a statement condemning the missile and drone attack by the Islamic Republic of Iran against the Iraqi Kurdistan. What is the U.S. Government doing to protect – to help protect the region, especially given that there are U.S. forces stationed there as well?
MR PRICE: So you’re right. We did put out a statement. We put out a statement in my name. The National Security Advisor also condemned these drone and missile attacks against Iraq’s Kurdistan region earlier today. We’ve made the point that we stand with Iraq’s leaders, its leaders in its Kurdistan region as well as in Baghdad, in condemning what was a brazen assault on Iraq’s own sovereignty and Iraq’s own territorial integrity. This is unfortunately just another instance of Iran’s flagrant disregard for not only the lives of their own people but also for their neighbors and for what are core principles at the crux of the UN Charter: sovereignty, territorial integrity.
This is not the first time that we have seen Iran use these tactics – ballistic missiles and drones – but we are going to continue working with our partners in the region to help them defend against these types of threats. And we can do that in a number of different ways. We have levied sanctions when it comes to networks of UAV – when it comes to UAV networks in Iran. We have taken a number of steps with partners in the region to provide them with supplies and assistance that they would need to defend themselves against the types of Iranian-provided weapons systems that are such a destabilizing force. So we’ll continue to do that. Ultimately this was an attack – a brazen assault on the sovereignty of Iraq. And the most important thing we can do in many ways is to stand with Iraq’s leaders, Iraq’s leaders in Baghdad, Iraq’s leader in the region – leaders of Kurdistan and Erbil going forward.
QUESTION: Have they reached out for any assistance?
MR PRICE: I’m not aware of any requests for assistance?
QUESTION: Same topic.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? So a duel citizen or an American citizen was actually confirmed to be among the killed. We just confirmed that. But also the CENTCOM put out a statement saying that they shot down a drone that they believe was going towards American forces. So is there any safety concerns for Americans in Kurdistan region?
MR PRICE: In the aftermath of these attacks, we did an accountability check. In the aftermath of that, we determined that there were no casualties on the part of American officials in the region. Of course, we take threats – potential threats like this very seriously but in this case there’s nothing to suggest that American officials were injured.
QUESTION: So I know that you guys have two statements out, but I am just curious what’s the understanding here. Why is Kurdistan region a target of Iranian attack?
MR PRICE: That would be a question for Tehran, not for Washington.
QUESTION: And last question. During the Obama administration and then early Trump administration, the Iranian opposition were able to engage with U.S. officials, but then former Secretary Mike Pompeo put out an order to kind of refrain from engaging with the Iranian opposition. What is the position of your administration? Do you guys engage with them? If not, why not?
MR PRICE: The Iranian opposition inside of Iran?
QUESTION: Or here, like —
MR PRICE: Of course, we’re always open to listening to those who have a perspective when it comes to Iran and its people. I think the most important thing we can do is to listen to those brave Iranians who were peacefully taking to the streets to exercise and to make clear their aspirations for greater levels of democracy, of freedom, of human rights. It’s important that the world not only listen but important that the world be able to hear them in the first place.
And so that’s why we’ve taken some of the steps we have not only in recent years, including the general license that was issued in 2014 but the so-called General License D-2 that we issued late last week, whose primary purpose was to allow the voice of the Iranian people to be heard by the outside world. It’s an important tool, and it’s – since the issuance of this general license last Friday, we’ve seen indications that U.S. technology companies have availed themselves of this newfound ability to provide services to the Iranian people. It is our hope that the Iranian people are in a position to take advantage of these – of this new technology, of these new services, not only to communicate with one another but to see to it that their voices are heard around the world.
Yes, in back.
QUESTION: You said there were no U.S. officials among the victims. There was one U.S. citizen. His name is Omar (inaudible), known as Chichu. So do you have any response other than the statement you put out?
MR PRICE: I am not aware that we’ve been able to confirm that just yet, but if and when we are, we’ll let you know.
QUESTION: Also, I have a question about sanctions, because you were talking about sanctioning the morality police. I want to ask about the – about the existing sanctions that we already have in place regarding specifically Iranian oil sanctions. Do you believe that these sanctions at the moment are properly executed? Because based on statistics, we know Iran boost its own oil exports, specifically to China.
MR PRICE: So some of the – and these are all, of course, open-source estimates, and so to some extent there is always going to be a margin of error when you look at statistics like that. I think what we can say with some confidence is that some of the open-source statistics have been inflated, and that is the case when it comes to certain reports of Iranian oil exports to the PRC.
But the fact of the matter is that sanctions and sanctions enforcement, it is an iterative – it requires an iterative approach. We are always looking at ways we can optimize the sanctions regimes that are in place around the world. We can optimize them in two important ways. One is to ensure that there aren’t humanitarian implications and to make sure there aren’t spillover effects on arenas that are important to us – like humanitarian arenas, for example – but also to ensure that the limitations and the restrictions that these sanctions are designed to impose are as constricting as possible.
So even in the case of Iran, in recent weeks not only have we leveled – and levied, excuse me – new sanctions against Iran’s petrochemical and – petrochemical industry, but we’ve taken action against sanction evasion networks precisely for the reason that you highlight. We’re always in discussion not only with our interagency to determine what more we can do as a government, but also with other governments as well to make sure that we’re all working together to see to it that these sanctions regimes are as biting as possible.
QUESTION: Separate topic. Turkey has issued a diplomatic protest to the United States and Greece for deploying U.S.-provided armored vehicles to the Aegean Islands of non-military status under existing agreements. Have you provided an official response to Turkey?
MR PRICE: Look, we would refer you to specific governments regarding any deployment of their own defense equipment. That is not something for us to speak to. More broadly, and I believe I said this the other day, we continue to encourage our NATO Allies – Turkey and Greece, in this case – to work together to maintain peace and security in the region and to resolve their differences diplomatically. We urge all the parties to avoid rhetoric and to avoid taking actions that could further exacerbate tensions. The sovereignty, the territorial integrity of all countries should be respected. Greece’s sovereignty over these islands is not in question, but we call on all countries, including our allies, to respect territorial integrity and sovereignty, and to avoid actions that could inflame tensions.
QUESTION: We just – moments ago we talked about Ukraine and the provisions under arms provided to Ukraine. Now, I know that all defense articles of the United States are provided on certain provisions. Aren’t there any provisions on those equipment provided to Greece in – being used in violation of international agreements, as Turkish Government deems it?
MR PRICE: We are always taking a close look at the security assistance, including potential weapon systems and supplies, that we’re providing to allies and partners around the world. We are in a fortunate position to have a number of close security partners around the world, people – countries that look to the United States as a supplier for the security that they need to confront what are often shared challenges and shared threats. Oftentimes this will come in the form of terrorism threats and other collective challenges, but there is a constant evaluative process when it comes to looking at the security assistance we provide to any country around the world.
QUESTION: Does that apply to Turkey and the S-400s as well, when you talk about how it’s up to each country to oversee or to determine the deployment of their own defense equipment?
(AGENPARL) – mer 28 settembre 2022 You are subscribed to Collected Releases for U.S. Department of State. This information has recently been updated, and is now available.