Blinken to return to Brussels to discuss Russia, Ukraine tensions
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will join Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin 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.
Russian President Vladimir Putin 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 Biden has yet to announce whether the U.S. will meet that deadline.