If the actions of the Russian authorities in their aggression against Ukraine go with impunity, this will untie the hands of other autocracies around the world, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.

He said this on the Pod Save America podcast.

“You’ve got one country, Russia, by its actions, saying that it can just change the borders of its neighbor by force, saying it can decide for its neighbor what its decisions are going to be, with whom it may choose to associate — not the people of that country through their elected government. You have a country saying that it’s fine to have a sphere of influence where we basically bend neighbors in our area to our will, not their own choices. If we let that go with impunity, then I think we open a huge Pandora’s box where it’s not just Ukraine,” he said when asked why Ukraine is so important to the United States.

According to Blinken, then other autocratic countries around the world, like Russia, will say: “We’re going to do this too.”

“And that is a recipe for conflict. It’s a recipe for chaos. It’s a recipe for human suffering and it’s a recipe for undermining democracy,” he added.

Blinken arrived in Ukraine on January 19 and is expected to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to “reinforce the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

He will also meet with the employees and families of the U.S. Embassy to communicate the State Department’s efforts “to plan for contingencies, should Russia choose to escalate further.”

On January 20, Blinken will travel to Berlin, Germany, to discuss recent diplomatic engagements with Russia and joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine. There he will meet with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

On January 21, in Geneva, Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.