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Blinken at Atlantic Council

A pro-Russian rebel aims his machine gun during military exercise near Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, Friday, March 13, 2015.

A top concern facing the NATO alliance is Russian aggression in Ukraine.

A top concern facing the NATO alliance is Russian aggression in Ukraine. "As Russia and the separatists that it backs descend on eastern Ukraine, they're doing even more than violating the borders of one country," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a recent Atlantic Council meeting. "They are threatening the principles on which the transatlantic partnership was founded and upon which the international order now depends."

Blinken at Atlantic Council
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There are fundamental principles at stake in Ukraine: that the borders and territorial integrity of a democratic state cannot be changed by force; that it is the inherent right of citizens in a democracy to make their country’s decisions and determine its future; and that all members of the international community are bound by common rules and should face costs if they don’t live up to the solemn commitments they make.

It is imperative, said Deputy Secretary Blinken "that we continue to stand together to affirm these principles, to end the conflict peacefully, to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. And the best way to do that is through full and comprehensive adherence to the September Minsk agreements and to the February Minsk implementation plan."

The last step in that plan, said Deputy Secretary Blinken, is critical – the restoration of Ukraine’s international border. Until that is done, this crisis will not be resolved because Russia will have the ability to pour troops and arms back across the border and into Ukraine. So, it’s imperative that the international community sustain the pressure on Russia, that it continues to support Ukraine, and if Russia continues to violate its obligations, then the sanctions should increase.

The United States and its allies strongly urge Russia to comply with the Minsk agreement.

The crisis in Ukraine, said Deputy Secretary Blinken, demands that NATO remain united and committed to its founding values.