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Blinken reassures Moldova amid Ukraine crisis

March 6, 2022

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said Moldova "deserves the world's gratitude" for welcoming Ukrainians. He also vowed support for the country's sovereignty due to fears that it could be Russia's next target.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Moldova's President Maia Sandu greet each other as they arrive to attend a joint news conference following their talks in Chisinau, Moldova
Moldovan President Maia Sandu (right) wants her country to forge closer ties with the West Image: Sergei Grits/AP/picture alliance

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed solidarity with Moldovan President Maia Sandu on Sunday, as the Eastern European country grapples with an influx of refugees due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.    

More than 230,000 refugees from Ukraine have crossed over the Moldovan border in a desperate bid to escape fighting since Russia's attack.

Ukraine: Escaping westward

Blinken praises Moldova's refugee response

Sandu said hundreds of thousands have sought safety, received food, transportation and temporary accommodation either at placement centers, or in the homes of ordinary citizens.

She said it was a "significant effort for a country with a people which is below 3 million and with quite humble incomes."

In response, Blinken said Moldova deserved "the world's gratitude for welcoming and protecting Ukrainians."

The Biden administration has requested $2.75 billion (€2.5 billion) from Congress in emergency and humanitarian assistance "to help countries like Moldova supporting refugees and address the humanitarian crisis from outside Ukraine."

Blinken: EU support for Ukraine 'historic'

US supports Moldovan sovereignty

The US gave its strong support to the "sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, including the Republic of Moldova," said Blinken.

America's top diplomat also said Washington had helped mobilize international support in response "to Russian aggression against Ukraine. Whenever and wherever that aggression might appear, we will do the same thing."

Moldova is neutral militarily, and does not aspire to join NATO. Sandu has expressed concerns that Russia could attack her country next.

"In this region now there is no possibility for us to feel safe," Sandu said. Over 1,000 Russian troops are stationed in the breakaway Moldovan territory of Trans-Dniester to the east. 

A map of Moldova

Moldova's president vowed further efforts to help refugees, but said international financial assistance is needed. Sandu also asked for a clear mechanism to assist refugees continuing on to third countries.

Blinken is on a visit to NATO allies and European partners to discuss Russia's ongoing invasion. The trip began on March 3 and has included visits to Belgium and Poland

He will visit Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in the coming days.

Ukraine fighting for its survival

kb/wd (Reuters, dpa)