Tag Archives: Josep Borrell

EU: Sweden moves towards NATO

Brussels 16.05.2022 “Let me stress my strong support to Sweden and Finland. Some minutes ago, I had a conversation with the Swedish Minister [for Foreign Affairs, Ann Linde], who was kind enough to call me, to inform that the process has started, that they are going to inform the King, and that there is strong support for this decision inside the Swedish society and the Swedish political spectrum” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said at the doorstep of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels.

“So, I think the European Union Member States will support this decision, and I hope we could override the opposition of some members of NATO,” he added.

EU diplomats: talks on food and energy price

Brussels 11.04.2022 “We are going to discuss about Ukraine, once again” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell upon arrival to Foreign affairs Council in Luxembourg.

“I will debrief the Foreign Affairs Council about the travel to Ukraine, together with the President of the Commission [Ursula von der Leyen]. We have witnessed what is happening there, the brutal aggression of the Russian troops against the civilian population. We came back really move after what we have seen. Really, you can go to Kyiv. Go to Kyiv as much as you can and witness.

“We have opened our Delegation there. We are going to discuss how we can support better the Ukrainian people and also how we can support the International Criminal Court [ICC]. I have just been meeting with the [ICC] Prosecutor, Mr [Karim] Khan. We will provide as much support as we can, through our mission, to the prosecutors, both the Ukrainian and the ICC prosecutors.

“We will also discuss about other issues. The Global Gateway, for example. How we can better partner around the world with our like-minded countries and how we can support them in order to face the economic crisis, which is coming. Because everybody will have to face the consequences of this war – not of the sanctions, but of the war – in terms of price increase on energy and food”.

“This is more or less what we are going to do today”.

EU top diplomats convene in Brussels

Brussels 11.04.2022 The Foreign Affairs Council will review recent events and current affairs, including the situation in Mali, Libya and Yemen.

Ministers will also discuss the latest developments concerning the Russian aggression against Ukraine, following the European Council of 24-25 March 2022.

They will then exchange views on the Global Gateway, the new European strategy to boost smart, clean and secure links in digital, energy and transport sectors and to strengthen health, education and research systems across the world.

Over lunch, EU foreign affairs ministers will hold an informal discussion with the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Anniken Huitfeldt, and the Icelandic Foreign Minister, Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir.

Borrell visits Kyiv

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrel visited Kyiv on Friday, April 8, together with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, to reaffirm European solidarity with Ukraine and to announce additional support for its defense against Russia’s aggression. They met with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal and visited the town of Bucha.

“There are two words to describe what is happening in Ukraine: failure and horror. Failure of the Russian army to overcome the courage of the Ukrainian people and horror over the indiscriminate killings and attacks against civilians,” High Representative Borrell said after the meeting with President Zelenskyy.

He stressed the EU’s appreciation for the bravery and morale of the Ukrainian people, as well as for the resilience of the authorities in maintaining the functioning of the state structures and the capacity to govern, despite the ongoing brutal invasion. With his Ukrainian counterparts Josep Borrell discussed in detail their current needs and acknowledged that their most urgent needs are weapons arms.

“We have already allocated one billion euro to provide weapons to the Ukrainian Army to defend the country and its people. In a couple of days, we will allocate €500 million more. We will make sure that these resources will be tailored to your needs, to provide you with the arms you need to fight to resist and to win,” stressed High Representative Borrell also at the meeting with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

In the wake of massacres by the Russian occupation forces in Bucha, he recalled the EU’s strong condemnation of the heinous crimes and widespread violations by Russian troops. He underlined that there cannot be impunity for war crimes and outlined the EU support to the ongoing national and international accountability efforts, including the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The High Representative said that the European Union will help, too, with documentation and prosecution of war crimes committed by Russian occupation troops in Ukraine.

“We will help the Ukrainian Prosecutor General to present the proofs in front of the International Criminal Court. Our civilian EU Advisory Mission will deploy their tools and capacities in order to support Ukrainian authorities in this task.”

The EU Advisory Mission will be supporting the Ukrainian Prosecutor General in providing training and donating equipment to ensure safe investigation and collection of evidence on the ground. The EU is also launching a dedicated €7.5 million euro project to support the investigations with ensuring large data collection on missing and disappeared persons.

During his visit in Ukraine High Representative Borrell [europa.eu/!tWtJHj]announced the return of the EU Delegation back to Kyiv, after its temporary relocation to Rzeszow in Poland. In talks with Prime Minister Shmyhal they agreed to accelerate preparations for the next EU-Ukraine Association Council, to take place in the near future.

EU adopts Strategic Compass

Brussels 21.03.2022 Today the Council has formally approved the Strategic Compass, at a time when we witness the return of war in Europe.

The Compass gives the European Union an ambitious plan of action for strengthening the EU’s security and defence policy by 2030.

The more hostile security environment requires us to make a quantum leap forward and increase our capacity and willingness to act, strengthen our resilience, and invest more and better in our defence capabilities.

The strength of our Union lies in unity, solidarity and determination. The objective of the Strategic Compass is to make the EU a stronger and more capable security provider. The EU needs to be able to protect its citizens and to contribute to international peace and security. This is all the more important at a time when war has returned to Europe, following the unjustified and unprovoked Russian aggression against Ukraine, as well as of major geopolitical shifts. This Strategic Compass will enhance the EU’s strategic autonomy and its ability to work with partners to safeguard its values and interests.

A stronger and more capable EU in security and defence will contribute positively to global and transatlantic security and is complementary to NATO, which remains the foundation of collective defence for its members. It will also intensify support for the global rules-based order, with the United Nations at its core.

The threats are rising and the cost of inaction is clear. The Strategic Compass is a guide for action. It sets out an ambitious way forward for our security and defence policy for the next decade. It will help us face our security responsibilities, in front of our citizens and the rest of the world. If not now, then when?
“The Strategic Compass provides a shared assessment of the strategic environment in which the EU is operating and of the threats and challenges the Union faces. The document makes concrete and actionable proposals, with a very precise timetable for implementation, in order to improve the EU’s ability to act decisively in crises and to defend its security and its citizens” said Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The Compass covers all the aspects of the security and defence policy and is structured around four pillars: act, invest, partner and secure.

Act
In order to be able to act rapidly and robustly whenever a crisis erupts, with partners if possible and alone when necessary, the EU will:

– establish a strong EU Rapid Deployment Capacity of up to 5000 troops for different types of crises

– be ready to deploy 200 fully equipped CSDP mission experts within 30 days, including in complex environments

– conduct regular live exercises on land and at sea

– enhance military mobility

– reinforce the EU’s civilian and military CSDP (Common Defence and Security Policy) missions and operations by promoting a rapid and more flexible decision-making process , acting in a more robust way and ensuring greater financial solidarity

– make full use of the European Peace Facility to support partners

In order to be able to act rapidly and robustly whenever a crisis erupts, with partners if possible and alone when necessary, the EU will:

– establish a strong EU Rapid Deployment Capacity of up to 5000 troops for different types of crises

– be ready to deploy 200 fully equipped CSDP mission experts within 30 days, including in complex environments

– conduct regular live exercises on land and at sea

– enhance military mobility

– reinforce the EU’s civilian and military CSDP (Common Defence and Security Policy) missions and operations by promoting a rapid and more flexible decision-making process , acting in a more robust way and ensuring greater financial solidarity

– make full use of the European Peace Facility to support partners

Secure
In order to strengthen its ability to anticipate, deter and respond to current and fast-emerging threats and challenges, and safeguard the EU’s security interest, the EU will:

– boost its intelligence analysis capacities

– develop Hybrid Toolbox and Response Teams bringing together different instruments to detect and respond to a broad range of hybrid threats

– further develop the Cyber Diplomatic Toolbox and set up an EU Cyber Defence Policy to be better prepared for and respond to cyberattacks

– develop a Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference Toolbox

– develop an EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence

– strengthen the EU’s role as a maritime security actor

Invest
Member states have committed to substantially enhance their defence expenditures to match our collective ambition to reduce critical military and civilian capability gaps and strengthen our European Defence Technological and Industrial Base. The EU will:

– exchange on national objectives on increased and improved defence spending to match our security needs

– provide further incentives for member states to engage in collaborative capability development and jointly invest in strategic enablers and next generation capabilities to operate on land, at sea, in the air, in the cyber domain and in outer space

– boost defence technological innovation to fill strategic gaps and reduce technological and industrial dependencies

Partner
In order to address common threats and challenges, the EU will:

– strengthen cooperation with strategic partners such as NATO, the UN and regional partners, including the OSCE, AU and ASEAN

– develop more tailored bilateral partnerships with like-minded countries and strategic partners, such as the US, Canada, Norway, the UK, Japan and others

– develop tailored partnerships in the Western Balkans, our eastern and southern neighbourhood, Africa, Asia and Latin America, including through enhancing dialogue and cooperation, promoting participation in CSDP missions and operations and supporting capacity- building

EU focus on Strategic Compass

Brussels 21.03.2022 “Today is going to be a very long day. We are going to have a joint meeting with the Defence Ministers in order to approve – I hope – the Strategic Compass. Which is not the answer to the Ukrainian war, but it is part of the answer. We have been working on that for two years, and when we started working, we could not imagine that it the last moment of approval, the situation would be so bad, and that Europe was going to face such a big challenge,” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said upon arrival to the Foreign ministers Council in Brussels.

“This is the moment to rethink the future of European capacities to face challenges like a war. That is why the European Union Member States will have to increase their military capacities. [And to] do it in a coordinated manner. As responsible for the Common Security and Defence Policy, we will be working to make us stronger militarily and use our capacities in a more coordinated way.

“We are going to continue providing support to Ukraine – with the second tranche of the European Peace Facility providing more financial support. We are going to have a meeting with the [Deputy Prime Minister] and Foreign Affairs Minister of the [Republic of] Moldova [Nicu Popescu]. Moldova is providing incredible support to the Ukrainian refugees. And then we will have a video-conference with the Defence Minister of Ukraine [Oleksii Reznikov], who will talk about the war situation.

“Russia is really committing a lot of war crimes – that is the word, we have to say it. What is happening in Mariupol is a massive war crime. [They are] destroying everything, bombarding and killing everybody in an indiscriminate manner. This is something awful that we have to condemn in the strongest terms. This is a war crime, a massive war crime, what is happening in Mariupol. The city will be completely destroyed, and people are dying. We will continue working and supporting Ukraine, with all of our resources. We will continue talking about what kind of sanctions we can think of again, more – especially related with energy. And we will see from [our discussions with] the Defence Minister of Ukraine, what is the situation there and how we can continue supporting them.

The enhancement of the EU defence plans is due to the France Presidency of the Council of the European Union. President Emmanuel Macron has ensured that his goal is to “to move from being a Europe of cooperation inside of our borders to a powerful Europe in the world, fully sovereign, free to make its choices and master of its destiny.” The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell clarified that it is means the EU should be “learning the language of power,” and being willing to act more rigorously to defend its interests wherever they are threatened.

The France Presidency has an ambition to upgrade the European defence to become fully operational. That is why the Strategic Compass has been promoted as the first White paper on the EU defence, becoming the major achievement of the French presidency. The document will lay out a common strategic vision for EU security and defence, and set the practical objectives in accordance with the timetable, or a roadmap.

There will be strong incentives to follow up on the commitments included, the EU diplomats ensure, as the document will be endorsed by the heads of state and government and will leave room for potential adaptations. The Strategic Compass will be a barometer for both member states’ and the bloc’s ambitions to make the EU a leading security provider for its citizens on the continent and beyond.

Borrell: “Putin’s war” must stop

Brussels 04.03.2022 “Today’s extraordinary session of the Foreign Affairs Council has indeed been extraordinary. It has been extraordinary because we have been joined by the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, by NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, by the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary, Elizabeth Truss, and by the Canadian Foreign Minister, Mélanie Joly, around the table” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said.

“Also, Ukrainian Foreign Minister [Dmytro] Kuleba connected with the [Foreign Affairs] Council remotely, because he is Ukraine obviously, to give an overview of the latest developments on the ground, and the urgent needs of Ukrainians and the atrocities committed by the Russian forces who continue bombing indiscriminately several Ukrainian cities.

“First, the humanitarian situation. The humanitarian situation on the ground is becoming more and more difficult due to this continuous bombing of the Russian army.

“They are shelling residential housing, schools, hospitals, and other civilian infrastructure. It looks like they want to destroy Ukraine.

“The UN Human Rights Council, as you are aware, has voted today on the urgent establishment of a commission of inquiry to address these violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

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“Taking into account that right now the figure of the number of people who are escaping Ukraine and crossing the borders of the European Union and also other countries like Moldova, is today more than one million people and it is increasing very quickly. More will come. We are above one million in less than a week.

“But we strongly call for a humanitarian corridor. The International Red Cross is not able to enter the country and we need green corridors for the Red Cross to be able to help the Ukrainian people.

“People – children, mothers, fathers – need food, need basic items. I saw it yesterday myself in my visit to Moldova, where I visited a refugee reception centre. I have seen many of them around the world, but it is heart-breaking. You never get used to these kind of things.

“[The President of Russia, Vladimir] Putin must allow humanitarian aid to go into Ukraine.

“Secondly, the European Union is committed to providing access to everyone fleeing the war in Ukraine and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have already arrived in the European Union and are going to several Member States, from the borders into the European Union.

“Member States highlighted the need to further support front-line Member States and asked the Commission to look into this and to mobilise resources from the budget of the European Union and the Commission services.

“More dangerous than this, overnight, we saw the Russian attacks in the direct vicinity of Ukraine’s nuclear power plant – the biggest Ukrainian power plant has been attacked. And this is unacceptable because it can produce catastrophic consequences that can provoke an ecological and humanitarian catastrophe for the entirety of Europe. The Russia army has to respect emergency safe zones around nuclear sites, and we need to ensure the safety of these zones because the safety of the entire European continent can be affected.

“But the most important and pressing question, the most important and pressing request is that Russia ceases its military operations and withdraw from the territory of Ukraine. The same goes for Belarus, who is a full accomplice to Moscow.

“We have been discussing with Secretary Blinken, and as Antony Blinken said that we are seeing a historic moment of the cooperation between the European Union and the United States, and the reinforcement of the Euro-Atlantic partnership. Together, we led the way of imposing the most far-reaching sanctions packages ever adopted. We must now ensure that they are fully implemented – because it is not enough to announce, to agree and to announce. But they have to be implemented, loopholes have to be closed and I hope that they will undermine the Russian war machine.

“President Putin intended to divide us, but he achieved just the contrary: we are more united and more determined then ever, much more than before the Russian aggression. And Russia is completely isolated by the international community, as the vote at the [United Nations] General Assembly clearly showed yesterday.

“This vote left no room for doubt: the world stands with Ukraine; the world stands on the right side of history. And this vote sent a clear signal.

“And today, the [UN] Human Rights Council voted again and established an independent commission of inquiry into the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. And also the result was very clear – 32 votes in favour, 2 against, 3 abstentions.

“I want to stress the fact that our sanctions are targeted. They are already producing results. And the aim is not to harm the Russian people, but to pull the rock out from under the Kremlin’s war machine. It is, however, unfortunately as a fact, that they will also affect people who are not in the inner circle of the Kremlin. And, until a certain point, ordinary people will also suffer the consequences of Putin’s war – because let us call it the way it has to be called – Putin’s war. And only Putin can end it.

“We have to avoid the Russian oligarchs to escape from the effects of the sanctions and to clamp down on tax evasion. This is a good occasion to fight against the oligarchy and to fight against tax evasion, because both things go together.

“We have to locate them and seize their assets, because the Russian regime gets its wealth from corruption and tax evasion. We need to combat this and turn off the tap of money flows financing this senseless war.

“In order to stop the flows of money that finance the Russian army and the Russian war, today we have also discussed the need to accelerate the green energy transition to further reduce our energy dependency on Russia.

“Allow me to say something about my visit to Moldova together with Commissioner [for Enlargement and Neighbourhood, Olivér] Várhelyi. Both of us, we underscored the solidarity of the European Union with Moldova and conveyed our gratitude and appreciation to the people of Moldova for their efforts and solidarity in welcoming refugees in a large number. Moldova is not the richest country in Europe and it has been receiving such a big number of refugees that, in proportion to its population, is like if Spain would have received more than 1 million refugees.

T”he situation in Moldova is fragile and they need urgent support. We will provide it.

“Finally, allow me to underline a very clear political assessment: this is not the East against the West. This is not a remake of the Cold war. We are defending the sovereignty of the nations, all nations. We are defending the territorial integrity of a state, all states. In the East, in the West, in the North and in the South. It is not again the battle of two hemispheres. We are defending international law, the sovereignty of states, their territorial integrity and the no violation of the borders. This is something that is valid for anyone in the world.

“We are not enemies of the Russian people. We are friends of Ukraine; we are supporting them on their fight, but we are not against the Russian people. This is Putin’s war, and only Putin can end it”.

EU summons Russian Ambassador

Brussels 25.02.2022 In the context of the EU’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, High Representative Josep Borrell instructed the Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Stefano Sannino to summon the Ambassador of the Russian Federation the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, in Brussels on February 24.

In their meeting, Secretary General Sannino conveyed the EU’s strongest condemnation of the unprovoked, unjustified invasion of Ukraine by armed forces of the Russian Federation and the demand to Russian President Vladimir Putin to cease military operations immediately, and unconditionally withdraw all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine.

This had been stated in the Declaration of HRVP Borrell on behalf of the European Union and in the joint declaration of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen.

Secretary General Sannino informed Ambassador Chizov that the EU’s firm response to the Russian aggression will be decided at today’s extraordinary meeting of the European Council, and will include a new, hard-hitting package of restrictive measures, both sectorial and individual, fully coordinated with the EU’s transatlantic and like-minded partners.

In the course of the discussion, Vladimir Chizhov outlined Russia’s assessment of the situation around the Ukrainian crisis, detailing the reasons that prompted the Russian leadership to take a decision to recognise the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic and then undertake a special military operation based on Article 51 of the UN Charter and the Treaties of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between the Russian Federation and those two states.

Borrell: Europe at “critical juncture”

Brussels 22.02.2022 The reunion of the EU top diplomat in Foreign Affairs Council has been called “the longest and most intense” among remembered by Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative, who shared with Brussels press the conclusions.

“Obviously, the main topic was the situation in Ukraine. In Ukraine, Russia has created the biggest threat to peace and stability in Europe since the Second World War. In Europe – the biggest threat to peace and stability. We are at a critical juncture. Everything we believe in and has been framing our lives – international rules, principles and progress achieved since the end of the Cold War – all that is being challenged.

“We have condemned the Russian military build-up close to Ukraine, the increased ceasefire violations and provocations from the Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“We have also condemned actions, staged events and information manipulations that are clearly aimed at creating a pretext for military escalation against Ukraine. It is a classical way of behaving. You create a pretext for a military escalation.
We commend Ukraine for its restraint in face of this intimidation and violations of Minsk agreements and international law.

“In the meantime, while we were discussing inside the Council meeting, we were following the discussions of the Russian Security Council with strong concern. We understand that the final decision has not been taken yet. We call upon President [of Russia, Vladimir] Putin to respect international law and the Minsk agreements and expect him not to recognise the independence of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. We are ready to react with a strong, united front in case he should decide to do so. We expect that he will not, but if he does, we will react with a strong and united front.

“Today we have had Foreign Minister [of Ukraine Dmytro] Kuleba and we have reaffirmed our unity, our resolve and solidarity with Ukraine. Because the Ukrainian security is our security.
We will continue supporting Ukraine on all fronts. Today we have adopted formally the Decision proposed by the Commission to provide 1.2 billion euros in macro-financial assistance to Ukraine.

“We have also decided to provide support to Ukraine’s Army with Professional Military Education [reform] developed under the European Peace Facility. We will increase our support against cyber-attacks and in countering disinformation. We will send a mission of experts to help Ukraine to face cyber-attacks.
We have also been looking into the possibility of a joint session of the Foreign Affairs Council, with the Ukrainian partners in Kyiv.

“I want to confirm that our embassies and diplomatic missions remain open and fully operational. With the single exception of one country, all others remain in Kyiv. Their embassies are there, open and operational, plus the European Union Delegation.

“It will be soon 8 years since Russia invaded and illegally annexed Crimea. I want to repeat again that any further aggression against Ukraine would have a strong answer from the European Union. But I want to add that this will apply also to Belarus, should an attack be conducted from its territory or with its involvement”.

Borrell: EU unity towards Ukraine crisis

Strasbourg 16.02.2022 “What happens in Ukraine will mark the future of humanity. All human beings should be concerned about what happens there, because if the law of the strongest is imposed again and one country can threaten another and can attack it and disaggregate it territorially, we will go back in history” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell during the European Parliament plenary debate in Strasbourg.

“The great success of the European Union is, precisely, having renounced war as a way of resolving conflicts. And that’s why we have to stand with Ukraine, trying to prevent a war on our borders. That forms a fundamental part of what we call the common security and defense policy, which I have the honor to try to develop. And the presence here, today, in this plenary session, of the institutions of the Union: the European Council, with its president; the European Commission, with its president; and the Council [of the European Union], which I have the honor of representing and presiding over its foreign affairs and defense formations, marks European unity in the face of possible Russian aggression against Ukraine.

“This unity has become stronger and more apparent these days. And I think that is one of the great positive consequences of this crisis. There has been a common approximation and all the European States have responded unanimously to a response that will have to materialise in what we call sanctions or coercive measures according to the Treaty. Sanctions that must be approved by the Council [of the European Union], under the proposal of the High Representative and that will have been drawn up with the invaluable cooperation of the European Commission, to measure their costs and consequences. And certainly under the political leadership of the European Council. That will happen if Russia attacks Ukraine.

‘But let me insist on the fundamental aspect of our Union, which is the most positive consequence of this crisis. A crisis that has been based on the threat to the territorial integrity of a State. A crisis that affects the security structure in Europe, which cannot be called into question through threats. A crisis that affects the right of each sovereign State to freely choose its security structures and its international relations.

‘Allow me to talk a little bit about which has been the role of European diplomacy in these events. It has been said that Europe was missing in action. We have heard that the Europeans were missing in action and that things were happening without our presence and without our participation, led by the United States, who were negotiating over our head. I think that we have to respond to this criticism, which seems unfounded for several reasons.

‘First, because the Member States of the European Union have been consistently debating the issue of security in Europe and Ukraine and we have achieved a remarkable unity. [Secondly] Because several Member States – France and Germany – have taken a number of political initiatives to promote a peaceful settlement of the crisis. And these initiatives have been carried out in coherence with the position of the European Union and in conditions of great transparency. And third, because Russia deliberately tried to ignore the existence of the European Union by sending letters only to the United States and NATO in December. Considering that we are completely irrelevant and that we have nothing to say about the security issues in Europe. For Moscow, the security in Europe is being defined in Washington.

‘Later, when they noticed that despite this dismissive attitude, nothing was going on, Mr [Sergey] Lavrov [Minister for Foreign Affairs of Russia] finally decided to send a letter to the 27 Member States that he had ignored until now. Why such a U-turn in the Russian position?

‘[It is] For two reasons. First, because they realized that the European front was not cracked and that the Atlantic solidarity was very strong. So, he tried the manoeuvre, which was to send letters to the 27 Member States, hoping to have 27 different answers. But, in this case, Mr Lavrov did not succeed, because we sent him a single letter, saving him the time to read 27 letters, all of them equal. Just one. One letter representing the position of the European Union on behalf of the 27 Member States. And this is a good example of how we, Europeans, can work together, and together with our allies, with the United States and other like-minded countries, with which we have had a continuous and very positive coordination. So, we have been present, participating in the negotiations – if we can call them negotiations or, at least, conversations – until now.

What can we envisage next? Well, we do not know, nobody knows. There are encouraging signs, but also very worrisome events, like the vote in the Duma [yesterday] asking Putin to recognise the independence of the two, let us say, “republics” in the Donbas. We do not know what Putin is going to do. But what is clear is that we have to continue offering both things at the same time: the will to negotiate, to be ready to participate in talks – because, yes, Russia has also security concerns that have to be taken into consideration – and on the other hand, to prepare our capacity to respond, our dissuasion tools, sanctions, as the President of the Commission and the President of the Council have been referring to.

On that, we have been working, and on that, we are ready to act. But, most of all, we are ready to continue negotiations, talks, in order to look for a diplomatic solution to the worst crisis that Europe is living since the end of the Cold War.

And I repeat again, this crisis not only affects the Ukrainians, not only the Europeans, it affects the direction of humankind.

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