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US building ‘pressure on the Kremlin,’ enablers: Blinken

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Apr 08, 2022 - 05:40 AM

ANKARA (AA) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that America and its allies were building pressure on Russia and facilitators through sanctions while bolstering NATO’s presence in the east.

“Together, we are sustaining and building on pressure on the Kremlin and its enablers, including with unprecedented sanctions,” Blinken said at a news conference in Brussels following a NATO meeting. “We are bolstering the defense of NATO itself, including by hardening our eastern flank.”

Blinken argued that there was a “remarkably broad coalition” united and standing with Ukraine against Russia’s aggression, referring to gatherings of G7 officials, EU representatives and allies in the Asia-Pacific. He accused Moscow of not just targeting one country but the entire international rules-based order.

“The sickening images and accounts coming out of Bucha and other parts of Ukraine have only strengthened our collective resolve and unity,” according to Blinken, who said there were credible reports of “atrocities and war crimes,” including extra-judicial killings, torture and repeated rapes.

“Accountability in of itself is absolutely necessary,” he said, while underlining that previous atrocities committed in other conflicts had cases that were built on evidence, facts and came to a conclusion even though it took years. “One day, one way, there will be accountability.”

The US has provided Ukraine with $1.7 billion since the start of the conflict so that it would be able to defend itself, according to Blinken as he shied away from commenting on sending Soviet-era weaponry to the administration in Kyiv.

Most notably, he said Europe built up an energy dependence on Russia’s fossil fuel over the years but now was looking for alternatives. That pointed to the importance of the transition to sustainable energy, he said, while noting that the US has taken responsibility to provide the continent with liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Among issues Blinken cited in the war was the mass displacement of Ukrainians, with 11 million having abandoned their homes since the eruption of the conflict and said US President Joe Biden announced his government would provide more than $1 billion in new humanitarian assistance.

The Russian war on Ukraine, which started Feb. 24, has drawn international outrage, with Western countries and their allies implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.

In response, Russia imposed visa restrictions on citizens of “unfriendly countries,” and asked these states to pay for its energy in rubles.

At least 1,611 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 2,227 injured, according to UN estimates, with the true figure feared to be far higher.

More than 4.3 million Ukrainians have also fled to other countries, with millions more internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.​​​​​​​

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