Blinken to visit Moldova and Czech Republic: July NATO summit in Washington in the context of Ukraine will be discussed

Anna PaskevychWorld
On May 29-31, Blinken will visit Moldova and the Czech Republic

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will visit Moldova and the Czech Republic on May 29-31. His visit to Europe is intended to consolidate US and NATO support for Eastern European allies, including Ukraine.

In Chisinau, Blinken is scheduled to meet with President Maia Sandu and other officials on May 29 to demonstrate U.S. support for Moldova's European integration course in light of the growing threats from Russia. According to the Voice of America, Blinken's visit comes amid an intensifying Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine and disagreements in the West over whether to allow the transferred weapons to be used on Russian territory.

Blinken's visit also precedes the June peace summit in Switzerland, which President Joe Biden has not yet confirmed, and the July NATO summit in Washington, D.C., in which Ukraine has high hopes for further integration into the alliance.

Sandu is running for a second presidential term, and during the election, US and European analysts expect Moscow to intensify its influence operations and intervention in the country, where about 1,500 Russian troops are still stationed in unrecognized Transnistria.

"I anticipate that he [Blinken] will have a strong package of support for Moldova's transition, both energy independence or less dependence on sources in the east, and support for democracy against Russian threats," James O'Brien, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, told reporters recently.

He added that Blinken "will emphasize Moldova's progress toward European integration, the strengthening of its democracy, and the threat posed by Russia's interference in its internal processes."

Washington is closely watching for any signs that Russia might try to annex Transnistria, the New York Times writes, but so far, according to O'Brien, the United States does not see a direct military threat from Russia.

"But there are ongoing Russian influence operations, and that's a concern," he said.

After Moldova, on May 30-31, Blinken will travel to Prague, where he will meet with Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky and other officials, and participate in an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

According to the State Department's website, the topics to be discussed include further support for Ukraine and priorities for the July NATO summit.

It is not expected that Ukraine will receive an invitation to NATO at this summit.

"We don't expect Ukraine to be invited to join NATO, but we think there will be a significant demonstration of support for Ukraine," O'Brien said.

"This will include NATO's continued support for the development of Ukraine's future armed forces and efforts to help Ukraine with the reforms needed to enable it to join the EU and move towards NATO as quickly as possible," he added.

Also among the topics of the meetings in the Czech Republic is the authorization of Ukraine to strike with Western weapons against Russia, Reuters notes.

Blinken's European tour comes just two weeks after the State Department chief paid an unannounced visit to Kyiv, the article notes.

That visit resulted in a change in the Secretary of State's position on allowing Ukraine to use Western weapons to strike military targets in Russia.

As reported by OBOZ.UA, recently Blinken said that the United States does not encourage the use of Western weapons to strike at Russia, but Ukraine has the right to decide how to wage war.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in turn, called on the Alliance to lift "some restrictions" on the use of weapons provided to Ukraine. According to him, Kyiv has the right to defense, which should include strikes on military targets in Russia.

Several countries, including Italy and Germany, spoke out against this initiative. At the same time, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron the day before, supported the latter's position that Ukraine has every right to attack military bases in Russia, from which attacks on Ukrainian towns and villages are launched.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala emphasized that since Ukraine was the victim of Russia's armed aggression, it has every right to use all available means to defend itself.

Dutch Defense Minister Keesa Ollongren expressed a similar position and said that this should not be a topic for discussion.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has stated that he does not believe that there should be any prohibitions on Ukraine's use of Western weapons. It is not about an offensive on the territory of the Russian Federation, but about defense, he explained.

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