Category Archives: Conflict

Borrell on Russia major escalation

Brussels 22.09.2022 “What President Putin announced today constitutes another major escalation in the unprovoked war that he has launched against Ukraine” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, while addressing press at margins of his visit to the UN, New York.

“It looks like he is speaking in a measure of panic and desperation. Putin is doubling down a failing strategy.

“By the threat of using nuclear, he is trying to intimidate Ukraine and all countries that support Ukraine. But he will fail. He has failed and he will fail again.
Unfortunately, this latest escalation is in line with the approach taken by the Russian regime until now.

“Putin’s threat to use “all weapon resources at our disposal” – this was his sentence – implies the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. And such a threat is unacceptable.

“Threatening with nuclear weapons is a real danger to the whole world. The international community has to react in front of this threat.

“Doing it on the International Peace Day is even more cynical. Maybe it is a coincidence, but it is particularly shocking to hear such threats during the United Nations General Assembly when the world community unites to work on peace and progress.

“Russia’s Putin is demonstrating again that it completely disregards the international norms, rules and principles. Rules, principles and norms that we have all signed [up to] – Russia also – as members of the United Nations. And these rules and principles start with territorial integrity.

“The intention to annex territories occupied by force since February 2022 and to hold sham referenda will not change their legal status. They are and they will remain internationally recognised as an integral part of Ukraine. And this is not going to change by holding sham referendum.

“Now it is clear that Russia wants to destroy Ukraine by all means, violating international law and the United Nations Charter since the beginning. But now it looks like Russia’s Putin wants to destroy Ukraine. The international community gathered here in New York needs to take the full measure of what is at stake.

The [United Nations] Security Council will meet and discuss about Ukraine tomorrow in [the light of] this new scenario. I will speak on behalf of the European Union to the Security Council. I will have the great honour and responsibility of addressing the Security Council on behalf of the European Union at that critical moment.

And tonight, immediately after hearing about the words of Mr Putin, I am convening an extraordinary and ad-hoc informal meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Ministers with the purpose to agree on a common line. And the common line – I am sure – could be summarised saying that we will not be intimidated and we will continue our full support for Ukrainian sovereignty and democracy, and continue working for this war to stop as soon as possible – before going into bigger challenges, before facing bigger threats, and before the international community has to react to such threats.

Kyrgyz and Tajik border clashes

Brussels 16.09.2022 “Violent clashes erupted in the last few days between border guards along various sites at the border between the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Tajikistan. We express our sympathy to those directly affected.

“Such escalation along the common border is detrimental to regional stability. The EU welcomes the ceasefire reached on Friday, September 16. We call on both parties to ensure effective implementation of the ceasefire and spare no effort to de-escalate the tensions and reach a sustainable solution to existing differences as soon as possible”.

Baku-Yerevan: EU welcomes ceasefire

Brussels 15.09.2022 The EU welcomes the agreement on a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which entered in force yesterday at 20:00. We are encouraged by local reports stating that the ceasefire is being respected so far.

“We call on the sides to continue its implementation and coordinate humanitarian steps, such as the handover of bodies of soldiers.

The EU Special Representative, Toivo Klaar, carries on his high-level consultations, as mandated by HR/VP Borrell, in Baku yesterday and in Yerevan today.

The EU remains strongly involved in the normalisation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan, including at the highest level through President of the European Council, Charles Michel”.

EU-Russia: suspension of visa facilitation

Brussels 31.08.2022 “We have seen a substantial increase of border crossings from Russia into neighbouring states. This is becoming a security risk” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, concluding the Informal meeting of the EU Foreign ministers in Prague.
“We therefore agree today with EU Foreign Ministers on Full Suspension of the EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement” he announced.

Agreement between the EU and a non-EU country that facilitates the issuance by an EU Member State of authorisations to the citizens of that non-EU country for transiting through or an intended stay in the territory of the EU Member States of a duration of no more than three months in any six-month period from the date of first entry into the territory of the EU Member States.

Borrell on Russia grain exports agreement

Brussels 22.07.2022 The European Union welcomes the agreements signed today in Istanbul by Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations to unblock the Black Sea for Ukrainian exports of grains.

“This is a critical step forward in efforts to overcome the global food insecurity caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Its success will depend on the swift and good faith implementation of today’s agreement” reads the statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on the agreement on export of grains.

“Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine is having a devastating global impact. Russia is deliberately destroying Ukraine’s agricultural and transport infrastructure and equipment, causing fuel shortages and creating world wide food supply chain problems through the blocking of Ukraine’s ports and the looting of Ukrainian grain. Russia has in fact endangered food security for millions of people across the world. The present agreement offers an opportunity to start reversing this negative course.

“The European Union has been supporting the relentless efforts of Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths and UNCTADs Under Secretary General Rebecca Grynspan, under the leadership of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, to find ways to unblock Ukrainian agricultural exports. We also commend Turkey for its important role in brokering this agreement and in supporting its implementation.

“The EU remains committed to helping Ukraine bring as much of its grain into global markets as quickly as possible. The EU’s Solidarity Lanes plan has facilitated the export of 2,5 million tons in June alone. We are also working closely with partners such as the UN and G7, to promote a multilateral response to broader aspects of global food security. In this context, we are mobilising over €7.7 billion until 2024.

“In line with the UN Charter, the EU will continue to work with and support the UN Secretary General in addressing the consequences of this war deliberately launched by the Russian leadership”.

Borrell: sanctions require “strategic patience”

Brussels 17.07.2022 “Since Russia brutally invaded Ukraine, the EU has adopted six packages of sanctions against Moscow – and we are about to finalise a “maintenance and alignment” package to clarify a number of provisions to strengthen legal certainty for operators and align the EU’s sanctions with those of our allies and partners of the G7” writes the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell (pictured) in his blog.

“Our measures already now target nearly 1,200 individuals and almost 100 entities in Russia as well as a significant number of sectors of the Russian economy. These sanctions were adopted in close coordination with the G7 member, and the fact that over forty other countries, including traditionally neutral countries, have also adopted them or taken similar measures enhances their effectiveness.

“Sanctions require strategic patience because it may take a long time for them to have the desired effect.
Now, as the war drags on and the costs of energy rises, people in Europe and elsewhere ask whether these sanctions are working and/or whether the side effects are too great. Without underestimating different problems that could occur, including attempts made to bypass them, sanctions remain an important instrument of political action. But for sure we need to use them in a well targeted manner, and, above all, they require strategic patience because it may take a long time for them to have the desired effect.

“One of the main sanctions adopted is to stop buying 90% of EU oil supplies from Russia by the end of 2022, depriving Moscow of corresponding revenues. Yes, Russia is able to sell its oil to other markets, however this benefit is limited by the fact that Russia is forced to give high discounts on each barrel (Russian oil is sold at around $ 30 less than the global average). In addition, and this is perhaps the most important point, this gradual oil embargo and the scaling back of the import of gas, liberates Europe from its energy dependence on Russia. We have discussed this issue at the EU level for years, but now we are implementing it.

“Cutting our structural energy dependence on Russia matters a lot because this dependence has been an obstacle to developing a strong European policy towards Moscow’s aggressive actions.
“Cutting our structural energy dependence on Russia matters a lot because this dependence has been an obstacle to developing a strong European policy towards Moscow’s aggressive actions. This dependence probably played an important role in Putin’s initial calculations in Ukraine. He may have believed that the EU would never sanction Russia seriously because it was too dependent on energy. This is one of his most important blunders when launching this war.

“Of course, this rapid detoxification from Russian energy involves significant costs for a number of countries and sectors that we will have to face. However, it is the price to pay to defend our democracies and international law. We have to handle these consequences by reinforcing our internal solidarity and that is what we are doing. By breaking its energy dependence, in line with its climate ambition, the EU is learning that interdependence is not always a neutral instrument that is beneficial to all or a mean to guarantee peaceful international relations. The Ukraine war confirmed that interdependence can be used as a weapon”.

NATO: New Strategic Concept

Brussels 27.06.2022 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday (27 June 2022) said NATO leaders meeting in Madrid this week are set to sign off on key decisions, including a new Strategic Concept, a major strengthening of NATO’s deterrence and defence and greater support to Ukraine.

Speaking in Brussels ahead of the Summit which begins on Tuesday, the Secretary General said NATO leaders will also focus on investing in defence, aim to make progress on Finland and Sweden’s historic applications for NATO membership and deepen cooperation with Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

“At the Summit, we will strengthen our forward defences. We will enhance our battlegroups in the eastern part of the Alliance up to brigade-levels. We will transform the NATO Response Force. And increase the number of our high readiness forces to well over 300,000. We will also boost our ability to reinforce in crisis and conflict” Stoltenberg said.

“Nine Allies now reach or exceed the 2% target. Nineteen Allies have clear plans to reach it by 2024.
And an additional five have concrete commitments to meet it thereafter. Two percent is increasingly considered a floor, not a ceiling. We will also agree to invest more together in NATO for the benefit of our security” the Secretary General continued.

Stoltenberg welcomed President Zelenskyy joining the NATO Summit in Madrid.
“NATO and Allies have provided substantial support to Ukraine since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, including with military and financial aid, and training for tens of thousands of Ukrainian forces.
All of this is making a difference on the battlefield every day. And since the invasion in February, Allies have stepped up even more. With billions of euros’ worth of military, financial, and humanitarian assistance.At the Summit, we will agree a strengthened Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine.
This will include substantial deliveries of support. In areas like secure communications, anti-drone systems, and fuel” Stoltenberg underscored.

Estonia indignent over Putin’s remarks

Brussels 11.06.2022 President Vladimir Putin paid tribute to Tsar Peter the Great (pictured) on the 350th anniversary of his birth, drawing a parallel between what he portrayed as their twin historic quests to win back Russian lands.

“Peter the Great waged the Great Northern War for 21 years. It would seem that he was at war with Sweden, he took something from them. He did not take anything from them, he returned (what was Russia’s),” Putin said after visiting an exhibition dedicated to the tsar.

“Peter I fought the Northern War for 21 years. It would seem that he fought with Sweden and rejected something there. He didn’t reject anything! He returned,” the head of state explained.

He noted that the fate of modern Russia also fell to “return and strengthen” its sovereignty and territories.

In 1721, the Northern War, which had lasted two decades, ended. The result was that the aspirations of the Muscovite tsars to establish themselves on the Baltic shores became a fait accompli. On August 30, 1721, in the town of Nystadt, the Swedes concluded a peace treaty with the Russians: the victories of Russian arms left little hope to win.

Sweden forever parted with Livonia, Estonia, Ingria and part of Karelia with Vyborg. Russia, on the other hand, had to return Finland to the Swedes, and also pay 2 million efimki (silver coins), or 56 tons of silver, for new territories. The money for those days and even today was huge, and in its own way they helped Sweden to improve the economic situation that had been shaken during the war. But the geopolitical losses could not be replenished.

Lugano: Ukraine Recovery Conference

Brussels 11.06.2022 The Ukraine Reform Conference scheduled to take place on 4 and 5 July has been renamed the Ukraine Recovery Conference to reflect the new focus of the gathering. The way to rebuild Ukraine is through a broad-based political and diplomatic process. Switzerland and Ukraine want to start this process in Lugano. Discussions will focus on Ukraine’s reconstruction and development programme and on contributions from international partners.

The conference is being co-organised by Ukraine and Switzerland and demonstrates Switzerland’s support for the only country on the European continent currently affected by armed conflict. Prior to Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February 2022, Switzerland was the fifth largest bilateral donor in Ukraine, which is also one of the few countries where the Swiss international cooperation strategy is being implemented using all of its instruments (development cooperation, humanitarian aid and peacebuilding).

Hosting the URC2022 in Switzerland gives us the opportunity to foster an inclusive approach to the reform agenda in Ukraine based on shared responsibility. The URC2022 conference will now go beyond reforms and is aimed at rebuilding Ukraine. Switzerland will be able to support Ukraine with its expertise, engagement and unique position as a non-EU and non-NATO European country.

URC2022 is expected to attract international delegations as well as representatives from the private sector and civil society. Details are not yet known. The participation of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Shmyhal is confirmed, but in what form (physical or virtual) depends on how the situation evolves.

After the Euromaidan in 2013, Ukraine embarked on an ambitious reform programme. Since then, the authorities have effected more reforms than in the two decades since Ukraine’s independence in 1991. Euromaidan crystallised the Ukrainian people’s aspirations for a more European direction and closer alignment with European values for their social contract and international orientation. Although the revolution proved to be a great source of inspiration and a driver of Ukraine’s reforms, it was the association agreement and free trade agreement with the EU as well as visa liberalisation that actually anchored the country’s reform agenda. To date, Ukraine has undergone landmark reforms in banking, decentralisation and digital transformation.

The Ukraine Reform Conference (URC) takes place once a year and provides an annual overview of developments. It was launched in London in 2017 (2018 Copenhagen, 2019 Toronto and, due to COVID-19, only again in 2021 in Vilnius). The goal of the URC is for Ukraine to present the progress it has made, for international partners to express support, and for all stakeholders to examine what steps to take next to advance the reform process. Each URC is co-organised by the foreign ministers of the host country and Ukraine.

EU-Russia: six package of sanctions

Brussels 31.05.2021 “The European Council is committed to intensify pressure on Russia and Belarus to thwart Russia’s war against Ukraine. The European Council calls on all countries to align with EU sanctions. Any attempts to circumvent sanctions or to aid Russia by other means must be stopped.

“The European Council agrees that the sixth package of sanctions against Russia will cover crude oil, as well as petroleum products, delivered from Russia into Member States, with a temporary exception for crude oil delivered by pipeline.

“The European Council therefore urges the Council to finalise and adopt it without delay, ensuring a well-functioning EU Single Market, fair competition, solidarity among Member States and a level playing field also with regard to the phasing out of our dependency on Russian fossil fuels. In case of sudden interruptions of supply, emergency measures will be introduced to ensure security of supply. In this respect, the Commission will monitor and report regularly to the Council on the implementation of these measures to ensure a level playing field in the EU Single Market and security of supply.

“The European Council will revert to the issue of the temporary exception for crude oil delivered by pipeline as soon as possible.

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