Blinken to return to Brussels to discuss Russia, Ukraine tensions

Blinken to return to Brussels to discuss Russia, Ukraine tensions
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Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenUS sends aircraft carrier group to Mediterranean as Russia threat looms US sanctions 'international' Hezbollah financing network US, Japan in 'close consultations' amid Russian tensions MORE will join Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security — White House raises new alarm over Russia GOP lawmakers press administration on US weapons left behind in Afghanistan Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation MORE for discussions at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, regarding Iran, Russia and Afghanistan, a top U.S. official said on Saturday.

The official told Reuters that Blinken's discussions would focus on Iran, Afghanistan, and the ongoing buildup of Russian military forces near its border with Ukraine.

Austin had previously been scheduled to visit Brussels beginning Saturday. The discussions were to include Israel, Germany and Britain.

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Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinUkrainian president praises Biden for reaffirming US support The pitfalls of Russia's plan to rewrite history in Ukraine Kazakhstan's crackdown is a frightening formula for authoritarians MORE accused Ukraine of committing “dangerous provocative actions” in the contested Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, further raising fears that Russia could send troops in to support pro-Russian separatists in the region. Reuters reports Russia has amassed more troops in the region than at any time since it annexed Crimea in 2014.

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on the secretary's travel plans when contacted by The Hill.

Blinken's reported trip to NATO headquarters would also come as efforts continue in Afghanistan to support the country's fragile government while a deadline for an agreement in which the U.S. withdraws combat troops from the country is set to occur on May 1. President BidenJoe BidenNew York woman arrested after allegedly spitting on Jewish children Former Sen. Donnelly confirmed as Vatican ambassador Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE has yet to announce whether the U.S. will meet that deadline.