Blinken To Discuss Ukraine, Balkans With NATO

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken | Image by secblinken/Instagram

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling to Brussels on Monday for the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting, where he is expected to reiterate support for Ukraine and discuss the Western Balkans.

Blinken will attend the first foreign ministers meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council, where he will express support for Ukraine on behalf of the U.S., according to a press release from the U.S. Department of State.

The U.S. has consistently taken a stance in support of Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February.

This sentiment has also been expressed by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who said during a trip to Kyiv that there has been a “shift in mindset” by those who thought Russia would quickly overpower Ukraine.

“We will remain with you for the long haul. What happened here in Ukraine — that not only matters to Ukraine but it matters to the rest of the world. It certainly matters to the United States of America,” he said, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

A fact sheet from the U.S. Department of State claims that the U.S. has provided roughly $44.2 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, but President Joe Biden has continued to request that more be done to support the country.

The U.S. Senate recently passed a bill to avoid a government shutdown that did not include additional funding for Ukraine, a topic lawmakers are expected to address once they return from a holiday break.

In addition to the conflict in Ukraine, the foreign ministers are also expected to discuss regional stability in the Western Balkans and priorities for the Washington Summit in 2024.

Violence between Serbia and Kosovo has occurred twice in recent months, prompting the prime minister of neighboring Albania to call for an increased NATO presence in the region, according to the Associated Press.

Some Western nations have expressed concerns that Russia could instigate more violence in an attempt to draw attention away from the conflict with Ukraine, per AP.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien told reporters that Blinken supports increasing the NATO presence in Kosovo to help facilitate the two sides joining the European Union.

“Having the north be secure and quiet is the key to making political progress on the roadmap, and on the two countries’ paths towards Europe,” said O’Brien, as reported by Reuters.

Discussions about the priorities for the 2024 Washington Summit will also be held, as the alliance will be celebrating its 75th Anniversary since NATO was first established in April 1949.

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