US State Secretary Antony Blinken is visiting Europe this week, where he is scheduled to meet with NATO foreign ministers to discuss the alliance’s reaction to Russia’s assault against Ukraine, The Hill reported.
Blinken will fly to Berlin on May 14 for an informal session with NATO foreign ministers, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price. On May 15, the secretary will join the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council in Paris.
The NATO conference with foreign ministers signifies the beginning of a June summit of leaders in Madrid.
The NATO meeting is taking place as Finland has stated its intention to apply for membership in the alliance, with Sweden likely to follow suit. According to reports, Russia’s foreign ministry considered Finland’s decision to join the alliance as unfriendly and a danger to Moscow’s security on Thursday.
Finland joining the alliance, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, would be a danger to Russia and would not increase security.
In some surveys, public support for Finland joining NATO has risen from roughly 30% to over 80% since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
Finland’s parliament would have to approve the move, as well as any other domestic legislative impediments, but NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has stated that the nation would be “warmly welcomed” into the organization if it applied.
The meeting takes place as the Biden administration works to pledge roughly $40 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, the majority of which will be military help, as Kyiv’s troops start counteroffensives to push Russian soldiers out of the country’s south and east.