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US envoy to Europe warns of further sanctions against Russia this week

The United States will ramp up sanctions against Russia at a NATO summit this week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried warned on Tuesday.

“Yes, of course, there is more we can do,” Donfried said when asked whether the U.S. would commit to more sanctions against Russia at the NATO meeting on Thursday. “We’re continuing to do more,” she added, speaking at the POLITICO 28 — Class of 2022 dinner.

Donfried admitted that the U.S. was “very concerned” about the possibility of Russia using chemical weapons. Asked whether using such weapons in Europe would be a red line for the U.S., she warned that Washington had made it “clear that if Russia chose to further invade Ukraine, it would face massive consequences.”

Pressed on whether Western allies would heed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s calls to introduce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, Donfried said a no-fly zone would imply shooting down Russian aircraft, and that “surely would lead to direct military engagement between the U.S. and Russia that we want to avoid in the interest of global stability.”

Donfried also defended the moves that Western allies have made following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She said actions on both sides of the Atlantic were not “just words,” adding that there was “an immediate response through sanctions, export controls” and that these measures were “unprecedented.”

“They weren’t even considered in 2014 when Russia seized Crimea,” she added.

Donfried said U.S. President Joe Biden’s trip to Brussels for the NATO meeting and an EU summit was about “transatlantic solidarity.”

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