EU foreign ministers plan to condemn “Russia’s aggressive actions and continued threats against Ukraine”, while calling for de-escalation at Monday’s (January 24) meeting in Brussels.
“Notions of ‘spheres of influence’ have no place in the 21st century,” they also plan to say, according to draft findings seen by EUobserver.
The “freedom of states to choose or change their own security arrangements”, like Ukraine’s freedom to pursue NATO membership, was “non-negotiable”, they added.
Russia’s violation of these principles “threatens peace and stability on our continent” and will lead to “massive consequences and significant costs… [including] a wide range of sectoral and individual restrictive measures,” the draft conclusions state.
“The EU has accelerated the preparatory work in this direction,” they noted.
The EU statement comes as the United States over the weekend ordered the families of diplomats and non-essential embassy staff to leave Ukraine.
“Russian military action could occur at any time” and the State Department “will not be able to evacuate US citizens in such an event, so US citizens currently in Ukraine should plan accordingly” , said the US Embassy in Kiev.
“Do not travel to Ukraine due to increased threats of Russian military action,” the United States also advised its citizens.
“Do not travel to Russia due to ongoing tensions along the border with Ukraine, potential for harassment against US citizens,” he added.
For its part, the UK has warned that Russia plans to overthrow the pro-Western government in Kiev to install a pro-Kremlin MK, Yevhen Murayev, in power as part of its plans.
“There will be very serious consequences if Russia makes this decision to try to invade but also to install a puppet regime,” British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday.
The UK and US have also sent lethal weapons to Ukraine to help counter possible aggression, with some 90 tonnes of US weapons offloaded in Kiev on Saturday.
And the United States plans to send 3,000 to 5,000 additional troops to the Baltic states and Romania as part of Russia’s NATO deterrents.
Meanwhile, the statement from EU foreign ministers comes after Russia barred the EU from security talks with the United States and NATO in recent weeks.
His mention of “spheres of influence” referred to Russian demands that NATO bar Ukraine from membership and withdraw its troops from Eastern Europe.
The foreign ministers were also to say they would send aid to Ukraine to counter Russian ‘cyber and hybrid threats’, such as disinformation, and to boost Ukraine’s ‘professional military education’ .
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania want to send American-made anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.
But most EU countries do not want to go down this road.
French President Emmanuel Macron last week called for new security talks between the EU and Russia.
And a German naval commander has issued thoughts on Russia that indicated some members of the German military establishment have more sympathy for Russia’s ideas than diplomatic statements from the EU suggest.
“What he [Russian president Vladimir Putin] really wants is respect,” said Schönbach.
“And, my goodness, giving someone respect is inexpensive, even free… It’s easy to give them the respect they really want – and probably deserve, too,” the German vice admiral said. Kay-Achim Schönbach during a visit to India last week. .
“The Crimean Peninsula [which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014] is gone, he will never come back, that’s a fact,” Schönbach also said, before tendering his resignation for what he himself called his “thoughtless remarks.”