Home News Blinken visits Eastern Europe as Russia pushes for war in Ukraine

Blinken visits Eastern Europe as Russia pushes for war in Ukraine

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Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken plans to visit Moldova and the Czech Republic this week to show American support for countries facing hostile Russian threats. He also plans to attend a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in the Czech Republic to discuss support for Ukraine.

Mr. Blinken Overnight in Kiev More than two weeks ago, she was expected to fly to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, on Wednesday to meet with Moldovan President Maia Sandu, who is running for re-election. Ms. Sandu has been advocating Moldova’s accession to the European Union and plans to hold a referendum on joining the EU on the day of the general election in October.

She is expected to run against a pro-Russian candidate, and U.S. and European analysts say Moscow is likely to try to interfere in the election, as it has done in other European elections. The Biden administration has publicly said Russian operatives use a variety of means to carry out such interference, from hacking to promoting campaign events on social networks to Distribute money A favored politician.

US officials said Blinken would discuss with Ms Sandu and other senior officials potential threats to the country’s democratic process and how to free the country from electricity Moldova recently ended its reliance on Russian gas imports after a massive gas leak broke out in the pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria.

“I expect he will provide strong support for Moldova’s transition, including energy independence or reduced reliance on eastern energy, and support for Moldova’s democratic transition to defend against Russian threats,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien said in a call with reporters on Friday.

O’Brien said Blinken plans to announce more details of U.S. assistance to address those issues during his visit.

He added that the secretary of state’s message will “highlight Moldova’s progress on the path toward European integration, the consolidation of its democracy and the threat posed by Russian interference in its internal processes.”

About 1,500 Russian troops are stationed in Transnistria, a region east of Moldova bordering Russia. U.S. officials are watching closely for any signs that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to annex the region. Russian officials say it seeks to grant Transnistria special status.

In the Czech Republic, as State Department officials now call it, Blinken plans to follow that government’s lead by attending a two-day NATO planning conference and meeting with Czech officials.

The NATO meeting in the country’s capital, Prague, is intended to prepare for the alliance’s 80th anniversary meeting of leaders in July in Washington. NATO is not expected to immediately announce Ukraine’s membership in the alliance, a desire that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly expressed before and after Russia’s full-scale invasion that begins in 2022. However, O’Brien said NATO officials in Prague are expected to work out specific details of supporting Ukraine’s NATO process and announce them in July.

Russian troops are on the offensive in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Ukraine’s war effort is largely hamstrung by shortages of weapons and ammunition, and a dwindling number of citizens able to fight. Despite opposition from some Republicans, President Biden recently signed a bill passed by Congress that would provide a new tranche of military aid to Ukraine and Israel.

However, Russia is producing arms at a rapid pace, and U.S.-led sanctions against Russia have not weakened its military industrial capacity, as American officials once hoped. Biden and his aides say China has played a decisive role in supporting Russia through the sale of dual-use equipment and other exports that have enabled Moscow to step up weapons production. Blinken is expected to highlight China’s support for Russia in discussions with NATO counterparts in Prague.

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