EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell (file photo)
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, will visit Ukraine this week in a sign of the bloc’s support for Kyiv as it faces a Russian military buildup near its border.
The European Commission said on January 3 that Borrell will travel to Ukraine from January 4 to January 6, visiting the “contact line” where Russia-backed separatists battle Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine before meeting with officials in Kyiv.
The West is concerned that a Russian buildup of around 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders could be preparation for a potential invasion.
U.S. and Russian officials are set to hold talks in Geneva on January 9-10 on the crisis after Moscow demanded sweeping security guarantees from the United States and NATO.
Those bilateral talks will be followed days later by meetings between Russia and NATO and separate discussions under the framework of the Organization For Security and Cooperation In Europe (OSCE).
Brussels wants to avoid being left out of talks between the United States and Russia over security on the continent.
“The EU must be present at these negotiations,” Borrell said in an interview with Germany’s Die Welt newspaper last week. “We do not want to be…spectators that are not involved and over whose heads decisions are made.”
The United States has said no decisions will be made about security in the region without its European allies and Ukraine. In the latest consultations, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with nine eastern flank NATO allies on January 3 to discuss Russia’s military buildup and the need for “a united, ready, and resolute” alliance.
Russia has demanded guarantees that Ukraine and other former Soviet countries will not join NATO and wants a rollback of the alliance’s military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.
The West has rejected Moscow’s ultimatums regarding the NATO alliance and threatened Moscow with severe sanctions and other measures if it launches a fresh incursion into Ukraine.
Meanwhile, representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France are to meet on January 6 in Moscow under the so-called Normandy format, the Interfax news agency reported.
The four nations are trying to find a political solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine but haven’t met since 2019 under this format.
Russia and Ukraine blame each other for failing to meet their commitments under the 2014 and 2015 Minsk agreements aimed at putting an end to the war, which has killed more than 13,200 people since 2014.
With reporting by dpa and Interfax