The EU is not following the US in withdrawing its diplomats’ families from Ukraine, top European diplomat Josep Borrell says
Top US diplomat Antony Blinken and European ministers were preparing Monday what they vowed would be a tough response to any Russian incursion into Ukraine, as Kyiv complained that Washington’s decision to withdraw diplomatic families was “premature”.
Tensions are soaring over Russia’s deployment of some 100,000 troops at its neighbour’s borders, and Britain followed the US and sent home some staff and their relatives from its embassy in Kyiv. Moscow insists it has no intention of invading.
But there remain divisions over the extent of any punishment for Moscow and how imminent the threat of military action could be.
EU foreign ministers will sound out Blinken over a written response Washington has committed to provide to Moscow this week after the Kremlin laid down a series of security demands that would stop Ukraine joining NATO and roll back Washington’s influence in eastern Europe.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry decried the move as “premature” and insisted there had been no “no radical changes” recently in security conditions.
– React ‘forcefully’ –
Foreign ministers are not expected to give approval to any options for sanctions on Monday, but an EU source said Russia’s mammoth oil and gas supplies to Europe could be targeted.
The 27-nation bloc faces a complex task compiling its raft of measures as its members have starkly differing approaches and ties to Russia.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock insisted any further aggression from Moscow would get a “clear response” from Europe and talked up economic support Berlin gives Kyiv.
Britain, which left the EU at the end of 2020, ramped up the rhetoric with Moscow over the weekend by alleging it had information the Kremlin was seeking to install a “pro-Russian” leader in Kyiv.
Kyiv is already fighting a low-level conflict with Russian-backed rebels controlling a chunk of the east of the country that has claimed 13,000 lives in the past eight years.