US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reached out Saturday to the people of Russia in their own language, saying they do not deserve a "pointless war" against their Ukrainian neighbors.
In a message tweeted in both English and Russian, Blinken sought to counter President Vladimir Putin's argument that the West threatens Russia with an eastern expansion of NATO into former Soviet bloc countries.
"To the people of Russia," Blinken wrote, "you deserve to live with security and dignity like all people everywhere. No one is seeking to jeopardize that."
He added: "You do not deserve a pointless war with your neighbors, friends and family in Ukraine."
NATO expansion was one of the Russian leader's repeated complaints in the months-long run up to the invasion, which he ultimately unleashed on Thursday in defiance of Western warnings of severe economic repercussions.
Putin demanded -- but did not get -- guarantees that Ukraine would never obtain NATO membership, and a NATO rollback from eastern Europe.
"The people of Ukraine deserve to live in peace, as do you," Blinken wrote to the people of Russia.
State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted the same missive and added: "A message to the Russian people: We don't blame you for the actions of your government."
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