A senior U.S. lawmaker has urged Secretary of State John Kerry to respond to alleged Russian strong-arm tactics aimed at neighbors seeking closer ties to Europe.
Eliot Engel, the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urged Kerry in a letter to "speak out strongly" against what he termed "Russia's campaign of intimidation and pressure."
The European Union has also hit out at Russia for pressuring countries such as Armenia, Moldova, and Ukraine in the run-up to the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November.
Several of the EU's Eastern partners are expected to formalize closer relationships with Brussels at the summit.
But Russia has been putting pressure on these countries recently through threats and trade disputes in the hope of making them join its Customs Union instead, together with Belarus and Kazakhstan.