Borrell warns of possible de facto integration in Russia of eastern Ukraine

Strasbourg (France), Jan 17 (EFE).- The High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, warned on Monday that Russia seeks the “de facto” integration of eastern Ukraine into its territory through through the “massive” military concentration carried out “from Crimea to Donbas”. “Having seen the situation on the ground, I am increasingly concerned that areas not controlled by the Ukrainian government (…) are moving further away from Ukraine, driven by the Kremlin’s reinforced efforts to achieve de facto integration with Russia,” Borrell indicated in an appearance before the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Defense Subcommittee of the European Parliament. “I do not understand such a massive concentration of forces, without having this in mind,” he added. Borrell informed MEPs about the result of the talks held with Russia in different formats last week – bilaterally with the United States, with NATO or with the OSCE – in the context of the concern about the concentration of troops carried out within and alongside Ukraine. “According to intelligence, there are 100,000 Russian and separatist groups on the (Ukrainian) border, like 60 battalions, from Crimea to Donbas,” Borrell said, referring to the Ukrainian peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014 and the eastern region of Ukraine. that country that since then has been controlled by pro-Russian separatists. The head of community diplomacy, who visited the line of contact in Ukraine at the beginning of the year, said he had witnessed an increase in tension there due to “the pressure for the Russian military reinforcement”: “When you amass 60 battalions on the border, It is more than rhetorical”, he pointed out. Borrell told MEPs that the “so-called security guarantees” that Russia has asked Westerners at last week’s meetings are unacceptable and that the content of the response that Moscow has requested “in writing” “is already known and is that no”. He explained that NATO cannot accept Russian proposals not to expand further east “because it would go against the principles on which we have based Europe’s security architecture.” He regretted that although all parties indicated “willingness to continue the conversation”, Russia has said that “it did not see interest in continuing discussions because there are concrete demands on the expansion and presence of NATO in Eastern Europe that were not accepted”. security in Europe, made it clear that the EU is coordinated with the United States despite the fact that Russia “does not want to talk to us” as part of a strategy to “divide the Western world”, he considered. The Spanish politician stressed the importance of calling Russia to lower the tension on the border with Ukraine and apply the Minsk peace agreements to pacify the east of that country, but stressed that “any new military aggression by Russia against Ukraine will have severe consequences and costs with restrictive measures, which is my job as high representative to present to the Council” of the Union.”We continue to work on preparing sanctions, just in case,” he said, while rejecting the notion of preventive sanctions. Although he acknowledged that despite the fact that at this time the possibility of a Russian military attack on Ukraine is not the most likely scenario, he alluded to the fact that “there is another way to attack”, referring to cyber attacks. He recalled that the Ukrainian government suffered a strong attack of this nature on its websites last week, which “contributed to further increasing the tension of the situation.” “There are many different types of conflicts. We are working in different scenarios”, he commented. In any case, he indicated that the EU is working on proposals to review, if necessary, the European security architecture. EFE rja/asa/pddp (More information on the European Union at euroefe.euractiv.es)



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