The heads of state and government of the USA and their European allies have called on Russia to take visible steps to de-escalate the Ukraine conflict. In a video conference on Monday evening, in which Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) also took part, everyone agreed “that further Russian aggression against Ukraine will have very serious consequences,” said German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit afterwards. The participants assured Ukraine of their “unreserved support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
In addition to US President Joe Biden and Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Polish President Andrzej Duda, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel.
All participants agreed that issues of security and stability in Europe must be resolved through negotiations. They reaffirmed their willingness to continue diplomatic efforts, including direct talks between Russia and Ukraine mediated by Germany and France in the so-called Normandy format.
Scholz said before the video switch that the conversation was “a good sign of the close cooperation” between the allies in the conflict. “The situation is serious, but not just today, but for many, many days, weeks and months.” That is why it is important to act as one. This includes insisting that borders in Europe should not be violated. “We will not accept that either (…). That would have high costs,” said Scholz.
United States put 8,500 soldiers on increased transport readiness
Because of the Ukraine crisis, the US government has put about 8,500 soldiers in the United States on increased transport readiness, according to the Department of Defense. Ministry spokesman John Kirby stressed, however, that a decision on moving these troops to Europe had not yet been made. The relevant units had been put on increased readiness on the instructions of US President Joe Biden and on the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
“As such, they are prepared to respond to a range of contingencies, including supporting the NATO Response Force should it activate,” Kirby said. NATO decides whether to activate this “NATO Response Force” (NRF). In connection with the increased willingness, Kirby spoke of “reinsurance for our NATO allies”. (01/24/2022)
NATO forces are on alert
According to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the armed forces of the NATO countries are on alert. In addition, the alliance will expand its presence in Eastern Europe by stationing additional warships and fighter jets.
“I welcome the fact that the allies are contributing additional forces to NATO,” said the NATO Secretary General in Brussels. The western military alliance will “take all necessary measures” to defend its allies and will strengthen “the eastern part of the alliance”.
After consultations with the foreign ministers of the European Union in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell emphasized that efforts to find a diplomatic solution would continue. Should this not succeed, the EU is well prepared for a response to Russian aggression. This also applies to the possibility of cyber attacks on Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden is considering a report of New York Times according to the dispatch of thousands of US soldiers to the Eastern European NATO countries. According to government circles, one of several variants discussed provides for up to 5,000 soldiers. This number could be increased tenfold if the situation worsens. A transfer of troops to Ukraine itself has not yet been considered. The US Department of Defense declined to comment on the report. (24.01.2022)
Britain withdraws diplomats from Kiev
Because of the worsening situation between Russia and Ukraine, Great Britain is also withdrawing employees from its embassy in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. In response to the growing threat from Russia, some employees and relatives would be recalled from the country, the Foreign Office said in London.
The Australian government has urged all citizens to leave Ukraine immediately. The travel warning for the country was raised to the highest level “Do not travel” on Monday “because of the risk of armed conflict”. Relatives of Australian diplomats would be flown out of the capital Kiev, it said.
With a massive Russian troop build-up near the border with Ukraine, there are fears in the West that the Kremlin may be planning an invasion of the neighboring country. Moscow rejects this and demands security guarantees from the USA and NATO.
The European Union, on the other hand, currently sees no reason to ask embassy staff to leave Ukraine. “I don’t think we need to dramatize,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on the fringes of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. As long as negotiations with Russia are still going on, he doesn’t think it’s necessary to leave Ukraine. At the same time, Borrell admitted that the assessment of the situation could change. (24.01.2022)
Federal Foreign Office is working on contingency plans
The Federal Foreign Office is working on contingency plans for embassy employees and other German nationals in Ukraine, but currently sees no reason for extensive return campaigns. “We have repeatedly evaluated this over the past few weeks, also evaluated with our European partners how we could act as quickly as possible,” said Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) on the sidelines of an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels. “But I would like to say quite clearly here: That is the subjunctive.”
However, the Federal Foreign Office is now financing voluntary departure for family members of employees of the embassy in Kiev. That also applies to German organizations such as the Goethe-Institut, the German Academic Exchange Service and the German Society for International Cooperation, said foreign ministry spokesman Christopher Burger. “This is a measure we are taking to ensure the safety of the people we are responsible for there.” However, the ability of the embassy in Kiev to work remains assured, Burger added. “We still need our diplomatic presence on the ground to support Ukraine in this situation.” (24.01.2022)
US State Department orders diplomatic families to leave Ukraine
The US State Department is ordering family members of embassy employees in Kyiv to leave the mission in the Ukrainian capital. Embassy employees who are not immediately needed should also leave the country. In addition, given the threat of Russian military action, all American citizens in Ukraine should consider leaving the country, a statement said. This move by the US government had been speculated for a few days. Kiev criticized the move as “excessive caution”. (24.01.2022)
Asselborn: No war during the Olympics
With a view to the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing from February 4th to 20th, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn refers to a resolution of the United Nations according to which no wars are fought during the Olympics. “I believe that gives everyone time to think about war and peace and then make the right decision,” Asselborn said before the EU foreign ministers began their consultations in Brussels.
Klitschko accuses Germany of failing to provide assistance
In the Ukraine crisis, Kiev’s mayor Vitali Klitschko spoke of a huge disappointment in his country about the federal government’s adherence to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and a ban on the supply of weapons. “This is failure to provide assistance and betrayal of friends in a dramatic situation in which our country is threatened by Russian troops from several borders,” said Klitschko image-Newspaper. Many wondered whether the German government was “on the side of freedom” or “on the side of the aggressor.” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had previously criticized the German government’s refusal to supply arms to his country. (24.01.2022)