EU diplomacy focus on Russia

Brussels 24.01.2022 Anna van Densky “…On the Foreign Affairs Council today, we had important topics and we have been joined by two important guests. First, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, for our discussion on Syria, and the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, for the discussion on Russia and European Security” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell addressing Brussels press after the Foreign Affairs Council.

“Let me start with this last point right away, because certainly it has been the most important point on the agenda. The most important take-away is that we have reconfirmed our strong unity and our united approach on the challenges to European security. Our unity is our strength, and there is no doubt in the Council about this. In this regard, we agreed Council Conclusions that you have already seen – and they are, more or less, the ones we agreed on the informal meeting at Brest.

“The Russian military build-up in and around Ukraine and Russia’s attempts to re-create dividing lines on our continent, undermine the core foundations and principles on which European security is built and bring back dark memories of spheres of influence, which do not belong to the 21st century. We reaffirmed our full and unquestionable support to Ukraine and that any military aggression against Ukraine will have serious consequences and massive cost for the perpetrator.

“We have had a long exchange with Secretary Blinken and it was particularly useful to further assess the way ahead – jointly, the United States and the European Union – and we will continue our very strong and close coordination with our partners as we have been doing during this process. The European Union has not been absent in the talks with Russia, because before and after each meeting we have been coordinating, discussing, informing together the United States and the European Union. And I, personally, had phone calls and collective calls with the United States and NATO in order to be completely aware of what was going on.

There are three main elements that will guide our way ahead.

“First, our collective diplomatic efforts to convince Russia to take the path of dialogue will continue, even though the Russian rhetoric does not inspire a lot of confidence.

“From this point of view, Ministers have tasked me to continue coordinating the European Union position with all our key partners, notably the United States, NATO and the OSCE Chairmanship-in-office to ensure the effectiveness of our efforts. And we call on Russia to continue engaging constructively in established mechanisms, such as the OSCE and the NATO – Russia Council. We must also continue to support the efforts to reactivate the Normandy 4 process and the work of the Trilateral Contact Group on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

“We will also continue engaging with our international partners to explain what is happening in Europe and the Russian threats, and to try to clarify the disinformation that Russia is wide spreading about these facts. We need to step up our strategic communication and push back disinformation. I invite you to have a look at the EUvsDisinfo(link is external) publications in the network, where we debunk some dangerous narratives that are being spread. Today we have put on this webpage an explanation about the seven myths that Russia is wide spreading(link is external) about what is happening on the Eastern border of Europe.

“Secondly, should diplomacy fail – we are going to do our best for diplomacy to work – we are very well advanced in preparations of responses to a potential Russian aggression. And, certainly, it will be a quick and determined action with strong unity – not only within the European Union, but also internationally.

“Thirdly, we must step up our efforts to enhance Ukraine’s and other partners’ resilience. There are concrete actions that we can take and that we are taking. The President of the Commission [Ursula von der Leyen] announced today a financial assistance package made of emergency loans and grants to support Ukraine in the medium and long term. Doubling our grants, our support and providing an emergency financial support of €1.2 billion. That is a very important amount of money that Vice-President [of the European Commission, Valdis] Dombrovskis and my colleague Commissioner [for Neighbourhood and Enlargement] Olivér [Várhelyi] will visit Ukraine to announce and to share this news with the Ukrainian authorities.

“We are also looking out to support Ukraine in another key areas”.

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