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Blinken Calls for 'United' NATO Stance on Russian Troop Buildup Near Ukraine

FILE - Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers year-end remarks for 2021 during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Dec. 21, 2021.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with eastern NATO allies Monday about Russia's military buildup along Ukraine's border, calling for a "united" NATO stance.

In a phone call Monday with his counterparts in nine eastern NATO countries, known as the Bucharest Nine, Blinken said the United States was committed to "close consultation and coordination with all of our Transatlantic Allies and partners as we work toward de-escalation through deterrence, defense and dialogue," according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

Blinken called for "a united, ready and resolute NATO stance for the collective defense of Allies" according to Price.

In addition, Blinken "underscored the United States' unwavering commitment" to NATO's Article 5, which calls for the joint defense of any member of the seven-decade-old military alliance, which formed after World War II.

FILE - Flags of NATO alliance members flap in the wind outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 28, 2020.
FILE - Flags of NATO alliance members flap in the wind outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 28, 2020.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO but has petitioned to join the alliance for more than a decade, a stance that has angered Russia.

Russia has been demanding that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and reduce its deployments in central and eastern Europe.

In a Sunday phone call, U.S. President Joe Biden told Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that the United States and its allies would "respond decisively" should Russia further invade Ukraine.

Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, with the West protesting and imposing sanctions.

Biden has made little progress with Russian President Vladimir Putin in getting him to withdraw about 100,000 troops stationed along Russia's border with the former Soviet republic, although U.S. officials have said they do not believe Putin has decided to invade Ukraine.

The U.S. and Russian leaders held a 50-minute phone call last Thursday, with Biden again warning Putin that the United States and its Western allies would impose significant economic sanctions against Moscow if Putin were to carry out a Ukraine invasion. Biden said last month that he is not considering sending U.S. troops to Ukraine.

The United States has been dispatching small arms and ammunition to Ukraine, along with Javelin missiles it says should be used only in defense.

The Kremlin said last week that Putin warned Biden that new U.S. sanctions on Russia could lead to a complete rupture in Washington-Moscow relations.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.