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European foreign policy official inspects the front lines in eastern Ukraine and Blinken denounces the “weapon directed at Kiev’s head”

The European Union’s foreign policy official, Josep Borrell, renewed messages of support and solidarity with Ukraine during a field tour in the east of the country, the first by a high-ranking European official since the outbreak of the conflict there in 2014. At the same time, Washington called on Moscow to de-escalate the escalation against Kiev.

Borrell said – in a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba – yesterday, Wednesday, that any Russian military action against Ukraine would be of “high cost”, stressing that the European Union is coordinating in this regard with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States.

In a tweet, Borrell also said, “In light of the increasing Russian military build-up, I have come here to demonstrate the European Union’s support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

For his part, Kuleba said that Ukraine is committed to political and diplomatic solutions to reduce the escalation in the east of the country.

And the Ukrainian Foreign Minister considered that what Borrell is doing is a “timely visit against the background of blackmail, escalation and Russian threats.”

Borrell traveled by helicopter to Luhansk region (eastern Ukraine), becoming the most senior EU official to visit the region since the conflict erupted in 2014, as part of a Western diplomatic campaign to support Ukraine.

Borrell’s tour included meetings with soldiers and civilians in eastern Ukraine before returning to Kiev, where he is expected to hold talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday.

American warnings

On the other hand, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said – during a joint press conference with his German counterpart Annallina Birbock in Washington on Wednesday – that “the actual question is whether Russia is serious about a diplomatic solution.”

“It will be difficult to make real progress in an atmosphere of escalation and threat with a weapon aimed at the head of Ukraine,” Blinken added, reiterating the warning of “significant repercussions” if Russia invaded its western neighbor.

For weeks, Ukraine and its European and American allies have accused Moscow of massing tens of thousands of troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border in preparation for a possible invasion.

These parties have repeatedly threatened to impose “significant and unprecedented” sanctions if Russia invades.

Diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis have been enhanced in recent weeks, including a virtual summit held at the end of last December between Russian President Vladimir Putin and American Joe Biden.

Next Monday, Russia and the United States will start talks in Geneva, Switzerland, on the Ukrainian issue, to be led by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Ryabkov, to be followed on January 12 by a meeting between Russia and NATO, and then a meeting on the 13th, in the framework of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Moscow has repeatedly denied that it has plans to attack its neighbor, but it demands NATO to refrain from including Ukraine – the former Soviet republic – to its membership, and wants an agreement limiting the expansion of the alliance eastward towards its borders.



Reference-www.aljazeera.net

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