Blinken Headed To Eastern Europe Next Week As Concerns Mount About Russian Aggression In Neighborhood

Blinken Headed To Eastern Europe Next Week As Concerns Mount About Russian Aggression In Neighborhood

The Top U.S. diplomat will next week travel to Eastern Europe to reaffirm U.S. support against Russian aggression in the neighborhood, and to discuss collaborative defense modernization as well as the region's energy security, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.

Secretary Antony Blinken will be in Chisinau and Prague May 28-31 to meet with senior officials and also to participate in NATO's last major diplomatic get-together before leaders meet at a summit to celebrate the Alliance's 80th anniversary in Washington in July.

The trip also comes as concerns mount about Russia’s advances in Ukraine, its interference in neighboring Moldova, and pro-Moscow legislation being promoted in Georgia.

In Chişinau, Blinken is expected to announce a “robust” support package for Moldova, where there are 1,500 Russian troops stationed in Transnistria, as the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, James O'Brien, told reporters on Friday. “There’s not a direct military threat that we see at this time, but there’s ongoing Russian influence operations, and that is of concern,” he said.

Asked by TURAN whether Washington viewed Moldova as a "success case", in comparison to Georgia, in their paths towards NATO, O'Brien said, in both countries it’s clear the populations want to move toward transatlantic integration.

"That includes the EU and NATO.  It’s evident in opinion polls.  It’s even in Georgia’s own constitution, which was enacted by Georgian Dream.  So, the very party that is now raising questions is the party that was elected to office several times and locked in its policy of wanting to pursue membership in the EU and NATO."

He went on to add that in Moldova, President Sandu has been a target of Russian disinformation and aggressive operations since her inauguration.

"And we think that her success in delivering better results for Moldovans and in integrating further to Europe over the last years demonstrates that it’s a wise course.  Obviously, people of Moldova will have a chance to decide.  We want them to decide in a free and fair environment with as little interference and disinformation as possible, and the Secretary’s visit will reinforce that point," he said.

In Prague, Blinken will meet Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský and other officials to discuss support for Ukraine, including a Czech initiative to supply more munitions to Kyiv, before attending the NATO gathering.

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