EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell vowed the bloc’s full support for Ukraine Wednesday as he visited amid fears Moscow plans to invade and ahead of US-Russia talks on the crisis.
The visit comes as the West tries to deter Moscow from launching an attack on its ex-Soviet neighbor, which has battled pro-Kremlin separatists in two eastern regions bordering Russia since 2014.
“We are here first to reaffirm European Union’s full support to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Borrell told a press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
“Any military aggression against Ukraine will have messy consequences and severe costs,” he said in the village of Stanytsya Luganska in the Lugansk region.
“And we are coordinating with the US, with NATO and other like-minded partners in order to work for de-escalation.”
Kuleba said Ukraine and the European Union had a common goal, “to de-escalate the situation through diplomatic means so Moscow reduces tensions and abandons its aggressive intentions.”
Borrell’s visit was the first by an EU foreign policy chief to eastern Ukraine since war broke out nearly eight years ago.
Borrell said the timing was right because “the geopolitical landscape is changing very quickly and the conflict on the borders of Ukraine is on the verge of getting deeper.”
Washington and its allies have accused Russia of planning an invasion after massing some 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border.
High-ranking officials from the United States and Russia are set to hold two days of talks in Geneva on the crisis starting Sunday after the Kremlin issued a raft of demands to Washington.
Brussels fears it is being sidelined as the United States and Russia discuss the balance of power in Europe.
“There is no security in Europe without security of Ukraine. And it is clear that any discussion on European security must involve the EU and Ukraine,” Borrell insisted on Wednesday.
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