WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week will visit six European countries as Russia intensifies its war in Ukraine.
The State Department says Blinken will travel Thursday to Belgium for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers before heading to the Polish border with Ukraine to meet refugees, and then Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
Poland and the three Baltics are members of NATO and fall under its Article 5 defense provisions, which means the allies are bound to defend them if they are attacked. Given their location immediately adjacent to Russia, they are believed to be at special risk should the Ukraine conflict spread.
Western-leaning Moldova is not a NATO member but has relations with the alliance and has long objected to the presence of Russian troops in the disputed territory of Transnistria.
During a briefing Wednesday, Blinken made a direct appeal to Russians.
"This is President Putin's war," he said. "This isn't the Russian people's war."
Blinken claimed it's becoming "clearer" that the Russian people oppose the war.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has decried Russia’s escalation of attacks on crowded cities as a blatant terror campaign.