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Blinken says U.S. and Europe are following through on Ukraine commitments

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Diplomats are expressing outrage over reports of Russian atrocities in Ukraine. In Brussels and in Washington, officials announced more sanctions to step up the pressure on President Vladimir Putin, and NATO foreign ministers are trying to speed up military aid to Ukraine. NPR's Michele Kelemen is traveling with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Brussels.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Secretary Blinken has been spending a lot of time at NATO headquarters these days, and he says the U.S. and its allies are following through on commitments they made in the face of Russian aggression.

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ANTONY BLINKEN: One was to support our Ukrainian partners - we're doing that. Two was to put extraordinary pressure on Russia - we're doing that. Three was to make sure that we were shoring up the defenses of our own alliance, NATO, and we're doing that.

KELEMEN: The secretary announced another $100 million of military aid for Ukraine, bringing the U.S. total to $1.7 billion since Russia invaded in February. NATO's secretary general says Ukraine urgently needs more weapons, and that's one of the key issues being discussed by foreign ministers here. The U.S. and Europe are also taking steps to tighten the financial screws on Russian President Vladimir Putin's government. The U.S. is imposing sanctions on major banks, and the EU is banning the import of coal. The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, says this round of sanctions won't be the last.

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URSULA VON DER LEYEN: We've now banned coal, but now we have to look into oil, and we now have to look into the revenues that Russia gets from the fossil fuels.

KELEMEN: Weaning Europe off Russian energy will take time, but von der Leyen told the European Parliament that Europe needs to head in that direction. She's planning a trip to Ukraine this week and described the reported atrocities in Bucha as the turning point.

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VON DER LEYEN: They shot everyone they saw, one witness said about Putin's soldiers. This, honorable members, is what is happening when Putin's soldiers occupy Ukraine territory. They call it liberation. No. We call it war crimes, and we really have to give it this name.

KELEMEN: U.S. and European officials are worried that Russia may have pulled back from areas around Kyiv, only to intensify the fight for territory in eastern Ukraine. NATO's secretary general says the foreign ministers meeting here need to be prepared for a long haul.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Brussels. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.