US secretary of state Antony Blinken met the President of Moldova after calls for international assistance in dealing with Ukraine refugees
As war rages in Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged America’s support for Moldova as the small European state deals with an influx of refugees.
More than 120,000 Ukrainian refugees have poured into Moldova since Russia launched its attack on Ukraine on February 24, according to UN data.
Maia Sandu, Moldova's President, stressed to reporters on Sunday during a joint press conference with Blinken that it is the country's "moral duty to help them out" and that "we cannot turn our back to these people".
But she also flagged that the influx "represents a "significant effort" for the country of 2.6 million people.
"The Republic of Moldova does need assistance," she added, calling for "significant contribution from the international community".
Blinken assured that the US "will do all that we can to help Moldova as it cares for people" who have fled Ukraine following "Russia's unprovoked, unwarranted war on Ukraine".
"Moldova deserves the world's gratitude," he said.
He highlighted that US President Joe Biden has asked Congress to approve a $2.75 billion emergency package to deal with the humanitarian crisis and "to help countries like Moldova supporting refugees".
Amid growing fears of Russian military aggression — Russia has troops in Moldova, in the disputed territory of Transnistria — Chișinău reasserted its desire for EU membership.
Blinken also promised US support and lauded Moldova's European ambitions.
"Moldova has chosen the path to democracy, a more inclusive economy, a closer relationship with the countries and institutions of Europe, and the United States supports Moldova in those efforts grounded in our respect for the neutrality that’s enshrined in the constitution,” he said.
“Moldova is a powerful example of a democracy rising to the moment with vision and with determination," Blinken said.
Blinken's visit to Moldova comes amid a five-day trip to Europe which already took him to Belgium and Poland and will see him visit Baltic countries next. He will also meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on March 8.