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US, NATO Rule Out Halt To Expansion, Reject Russian Demands

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after an extraordinary meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs via video link at NATO headquarters, in Brussels, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. NATO foreign ministers on Friday discussed Russia's military build-up around Ukraine amid skepticism about the credibility of President Vladimir Putin's offer to ease tensions, ahead of a week of high-level diplomacy aimed at ending the standoff. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

(AP) — The United States and NATO are roundly rejecting Russian demands that the alliance not admit new members amid growing concerns that Russia may invade Ukraine, which aspires to join the alliance.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that Russia would have no say over who should be allowed to join the bloc. They also warned Russia of a “forceful” response to any further military intervention in Ukraine.

The comments amount to a complete rejection of a key part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demands for easing tensions with Ukraine. Blinken and Stoltenberg spoke separately following an virtual meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

 

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