But i just want to start with one one thing: logistically, you guys just put out a statement. Uh a secretary comment on the chinese sanctions on um on surf members. We did i mean that happened over a month ago. Uh matt is its an important if it was that important. Why didnt you react to it early im, just curious as to why it took so long for you guys to come up with a statement about it. Matt. I think you know its an important message. The secretary wanted to be very clear, uh that we view these actions as just another attempt on the part of the prc, uh to intimidate uh to suppress uh those who are um, putting forward just wondering why it took so. It took so long since this happened in december. Well, as you know, we often issue we, we often issue formal statements after the fact were always happy to discuss developments on a real same basis as, as you know, lets go to to the russia to the russia talks. Um two things: one is that was there any agreement on anything even to have another round of talks that was agreed to it in this so matt. As you know, uh these were discussions uh. They were preliminary discussions and the idea was for the united states, uh and uh, in our hope, the russian federation, to come with viable, practical, reciprocal ideas to put those on the table and to see if there were the potential for progress.
We did not intend this to be a forum where certainly decisions were reached, where any breakthroughs could be achieved or really even contemplated this wasnt, as you heard from the deputy this morning, even what we would consider a negotiation. It was my question i just want to know. I mean, because this is the third round of these that youve had and in in the previous rounds. There has been an agreement that you would at some point at some level, whether its a working group or whatever meet again youre saying that wasnt, even that what what im saying is that it was not intended uh to reach a decision. This was not a decisive session; it was intended to do. Was there any agreement at all to meet again at any? As you heard this level or anything as you heard from the deputy matt whats going to happen over the course of this week tomorrow, the deputy will travel to brussels shell meet with our nato with our european allies. They in turn will then have multilateral discussions with the russian federation. We expect there will be additional dialogue with the russian federation in the coming days. Regarding what the next iteration of this of this discussion will look like the bottom line is that no there was no agreement to have not that you were expecting to have one, but there was no agreement to to meet again at any other level. In this bilateral format, there was an agreement that that we will talk again in the coming days to figure out what those next steps look like and then.
Lastly, i just wanted to i want to you know: i asked deputy secretary sherman this before in terms of what it is that the u.s and its allies would would regard as significant or enough de escalation from the russian side, as it relates specifically to ukraine. She suggested that that meant returning russian troops that are now deployed on the border border to their barracks, but those barracks can be anywhere in russia. They could be 10 miles from where they are now, and so i want to bring this up again. Understanding the context and the history of what russian troop deployments might mean to countries along its border. These are still these are still troop movements within their own country. They havent gone anywhere else, at least not yet so these these. So what is it that you guys are looking for in terms of de escalation, because, if youre going to try to bar countries from sending from moving troops around inside their own borders, you know i dont think anyones gon na no ones gon na go for that. Um, let me make a couple points on that matt. There is a reason we have been talking about this. The united states has put this on the agenda really the center of our foreign policy agenda agenda and at the top of our messaging agenda in many ways. For the past two months, that is because this buildup of nearly a hundred thousand russian troops uh in recent weeks, weve called it unusual weve called it massive.
We have called it concerning. It is all of those things. That is why we are taking this uh with uh all due seriousness. Uh, you heard from the deputy that what we have consistently called for is for these russian troops to return to their barracks. You seem to suggest that it is completely normal in the course of business, for a hundred thousand troops to be on the border with ukraine. That is not normal. That is why weve called it unusual thats. Why weve been talking about this for the past two months? What barracks do you want them to go to some barracks and vladivostok? I mean i, i dont understand it. I get. I get the concern, i get the the history and i get the you know the fears in ukraine and elsewhere about what the potential you know. What the significance might be of these troops, but but who? Why is it for you to tell the russians where exactly they can house their own troops? Where do you what go to barracks, where back in moscow in yekaterinburg and where matt these this buildup started with the unusual movements that has now culminated in nearly a hundred thousand troops uh, it took movement to get to this, build up what we would like to See is for troops to return to their permanent staging grounds, their permanent bases if they were to do that, there would not be nearly a hundred thousand troops on ukraines border ill make another point: the russians did this without any transparency without telling anyone now, of course, We are going to notice a hundred thousand troops, probably far less uh in terms of a build up.
Our allies are going to notice it. Commercial satellite companies are going to notice it uh so its not that the russians sought to do this furtively or or stealthily. Of course, everyone is going to notice a massive buildup on the order of a hundred thousand troops and thats really the point. The russians uh knew that we would notice this. The russians knew that the intimidating signals that they are very clearly intending to send to keith will be noticed not only in kiev but in washington and in brussels and in paris and london and berlin and elsewhere and thats. Certainly the case you you raise the history but uh. The history here is also important uh. This is not a country where there is no and im and im glad you did this. Is that and just just how far away from ukraines borders do you want these troops to go uh matt? What we have called for is a return to their barracks and if we see a return to their barracks, that is an indication of de escalation. If these are truly exercises – and i think you can understand our skepticism as to why that might be the case uh, we would like transparency. We would like to hear from the russians what exactly it is theyre exercising why theyre exercising on this scale and when they intend to return to their permanent staging grounds uh. But just to finish, the point i was making before and the point you you helpfully raised is that uh.
This is a country that has a track record here and we would be remiss not to point out that track record as we speak today. There are russian forces and russian backed forces on sovereign ukrainian territory as we speak today. Russia, as weve just discussed, has amassed tens of thousands, almost a hundred thousand troops on ukraines borders and theyve done so in a relatively short period of time. It was, of course, russia that in 2014 sought to annex crimea instigated a war in eastern ukraine continues to fuel conflict there. It is russia that over the years has invaded has occupied, has fomented conflict against its neighbors and and others uh. The list is long. I probably dont have time to go through all of them, but ukraine, georgia, moldova, just to name a few. It is russia that over the years has interfered in democratic elections, including our own, but of course not limits limited to our own. They have used extra territorially chemical weapons, they have orchestrated cyber attacks. Theyve uh used energy as a weapon among other tactics. So again, youll have to pardon and probably understand our skepticism when we hear from the russians that these are just exercises that, as we heard from them today that we shouldnt be concerned uh.