EU, NATO Urge Diplomacy, Threaten ‘Severe Cost’ for Russia Over Ukraine

European Union and NATO nations are pairing diplomatic outreach with threats in a bid to deter a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, as Moscow demands security guarantees from the West and refuses to draw down military deployments along its western border.

Up to 100,000 Russian troops, supported by armor and artillery, are deployed along Ukraine’s frontiers. While President Vladimir Putin presses for guarantees, Western powers are trying to prevent an incursion that media reports have suggested could come as soon as January.

Russia has proposed talks with the U.S. and NATO to de-escalate the situation, and said on Wednesday that negotiations would begin next year. Moscow is demanding guarantees that Ukraine will not be allowed to join NATO, framing its posture as defensive. The proposal has been dismissed by Washington, Brussels and Kyiv.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said the alliance wants a « meaningful dialogue with Russia, » while U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan has also expressed willingness to meet.

On Wednesday, European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. « Together with partners and allies, the EU has clearly indicated that it will respond resolutely to any further violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty, » Borrell said.

« At the same time, the EU believes that dialogue, negotiation and cooperation are the only means to overcome disputes and bring peace. »

He added: « Any real discussion on security in Europe must build on and strengthen OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] and UN commitments and obligations—true pillars of the European security architecture—and not lead to their erosion.

« Such a discussion must be inclusive and must take into account the concerns and interests of all stakeholders, » he said. « The EU will engage with both the U.S. and NATO to ensure its interests are represented in any possible discussion with Russia on European security.

« NATO’s offer to hold a NATO-Russia Council in response to the draft treaties on European security that Russia rendered public last week is an important step. NATO has a key role in guaranteeing peace in Europe. The EU is keen to work together with allies as well as with its partners in addressing today’s security situation in our continent. »

Meanwhile, leading NATO nations—including the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, U.K., and Poland—issued a joint statement with Ukraine condemning Russia’s decision to convene an informal meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss « the situation with national minorities and the glorification of Nazism in the Baltic and Black Sea regions. »

Russia has often framed anti-Moscow sentiment in Ukraine and other former Soviet states as driven by local neo-Nazi and fascist organizations. Ukraine in particular has a problem with influential far-right groups—such as the powerful neo-Nazi Azov Battalion militia whose members have fought Russian troops and separatists in Donetsk—but Kyiv has accused the Kremlin of exaggerating the issue.

« This is a deliberate attempt yet again to divert the international community’s attention from Russia’s own ongoing violations of international law, including violations of international human rights law, and abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms, » the signatories said.

The timing of the meeting « is especially troubling, coming against the backdrop of Russian military build-up on the Crimean Peninsula and on Ukraine’s borders, » the statement continued.

« The UN Charter prohibits the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State. Any further military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and a severe cost in response.

« We call on Russia to cease its hostile disinformation campaign against Ukraine, to de-escalate tensions in and around Ukraine, and to withdraw without delay the forces and equipment it has stationed in the country without Ukraine’s consent. »

On Thursday, Putin refused to guarantee that Russia would not invade Ukraine. « Our actions will depend not on the negotiations, but on the unconditional security of Russia, today and in the future, » Putin said during his annual Q&A press conference.

« We have made it absolutely clear that NATO’s expansion to the east is unacceptable, » Putin said. « What’s not clear about it? »

Addressing the U.S. and its NATO allies, he added: « You should come up with guarantees, right now—immediately. »

Ukrainian servicemen pictured in a trench on their position on the front line facing Russia-backed separatists near the small town of Svitlodarsk, in Ukraine’s Donetsk region on December 18.

Cet article est traduit automatiquement. N’hésitez pas à nous signaler s’il y a des erreurs.


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