US President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy have discussed the tense situation between Ukraine and Russia. The phone call is about security issues and energy, Zelensky’s spokesman wrote on Facebook. Zelensky then thanked his US colleague for the US help. “Discussed recent diplomatic efforts to de-escalate and agreed on joint actions for the future,” the Ukrainian president tweeted. (27.01.2022)
Von der Leyen: The EU has strong leverage
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has emphasized that in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s exclusion from the Swift payment system and an end to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline are possible. “Nothing is off the table,” she said in a CNN interview when asked about sanctions. She also stressed that they are trying to find a solution at the negotiating table, but are also preparing for the worst.
The EU is Russia’s largest trading partner, accounting for around 40 percent of trade in goods, and the largest foreign investor. “These figures show that we have a strong leverage and that it would be very painful for Russia if aggression against Ukraine escalated.” (27.01.2022)
Baerbock defends the course of the federal government
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has defended the German government’s refusal to supply arms to Ukraine. Turning the foreign policy course by 180 degrees on this issue “should be done with full awareness and, above all, not closing doors for de-escalation, which are opening so tentatively again at this very moment,” said the Greens politician Look at resuming calls.
Germany also supports Ukraine militarily, she said. Baerbock mentioned the delivery of combat helmets, the construction of protective bunkers and the training of Ukrainian soldiers. But dialogue has absolute priority. “Whoever talks doesn’t shoot, so it’s fatal to simply dismiss the resumption of dialogue,” said Baerbock. The federal government continues to focus on strengthening Ukraine economically and financially. (27.01.2022)
Russia Reluctant to US Response to Security Guarantees
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented on the letters from NATO and the USA, which included security guarantees demanded by Russia. According to the Interfax news agency, Lavrov said that on the most important point there was no positive statement from the United States. Which point that is, however, remained open. In the case of secondary issues, however, there is hope for a serious dialogue.
The Kremlin also commented on the US response to the Russian demand for security guarantees. The assessment will take some time, explains the Office of the President in Moscow. However, it is already clear that Russia’s main demand has not been met. Nevertheless, it is possible to continue the dialogue. This is in the interests of Russia and the United States. Bilateral contacts would initially continue at working level, with Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden then deciding whether and when to meet in person. (27.01.2022)
Wang warns Blinken to ‘take Russia’s security concerns seriously’
From the Chinese point of view, Russia’s concerns about its security in the conflict over Ukraine must be “taken seriously and resolved”. In a phone call with US Secretary of State Tony Blinken, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged all parties to exercise restraint, the State Department reported in Beijing on Thursday.
One must refrain from exacerbating tensions or speculating to exaggerate the crisis. One country’s security cannot be at the expense of another. Nor can regional security be guaranteed by strengthening or even expanding military blocs, Wang Yi emphasized. In the 21st century, all parties should “completely abandon the Cold War mentality” and shape a balanced and sustainable security architecture in Europe through negotiations.
In order to solve the Ukraine problem, it is necessary to go back to the beginning of the Minsk accords, Wang Yi said. China supports all efforts in this direction. The deal was struck in 2014, five months after fighting began between Ukrainian government soldiers against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. It was a first truce with a peace plan. But the implementation is lacking.
According to his spokesman Ned Price in Washington, Blinken underlined “the global security and economic risks that pose further Russian aggression against Ukraine”. The foreign minister said that de-escalation and diplomacy were the responsible way forward.
US: No Nord Stream 2 in case of invasion of Russia
The United States reiterated its announcement that it would impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 Baltic gas pipeline if Russia takes action against Ukraine. “I want to be very clear: if Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not happen,” said US State Department spokesman Ned Price. According to the July 21, 2021, US-German agreement, the gas pipeline may come under sanctions if Russia uses energy as a political weapon or acts against Ukraine. (26.01.2022)
Normandy talks resume in two weeks
The chief negotiators of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia commit to a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. After several hours of negotiations in the so-called Normandy format, the foreign policy advisors of the four governments emphasized at a meeting in Paris on Wednesday that the 2014 Minsk peace agreement for Ukraine remains the basis for further negotiations. According to a statement published by the French presidential palace, the chief diplomats want to meet again in Berlin in two weeks. After eight hours of negotiations, the Russian negotiator in charge of the negotiations, Dmitrij Kozak, criticized the fact that the proposals of the separatists in eastern Ukraine had so far remained unanswered. (26.01.2022)
US and NATO respond to Russia’s questions
The US government has issued a written response to Russian demands for security guarantees in Eastern Europe. The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed receipt of the letter. US Ambassador John Sullivan handed it over to Deputy Secretary of State Alexander Grushko at a meeting, the Russian side said.
US Secretary of State Tony Blinken said the US government’s written responses to Moscow’s concerns have been fully coordinated with Ukraine and European allies. “We got their input and incorporated it into the final version that was sent to Moscow,” Blinken said at a short-notice press conference in Washington. NATO has also sent a letter to Russia, which Blinken says is consistent with the US response. “We are ready to listen to Russia’s concerns and to have a real discussion on how to preserve and strengthen the fundamental principles of European security,” said Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Last month, Russia handed over a draft agreement to NATO and the United States in which the Kremlin demands security guarantees in Europe. Among other things, it calls for an end to the eastward expansion of NATO, which Russia sees as a threat. The Kremlin wants to prevent Ukraine from being included in the western defense alliance. The US and NATO, in turn, suspect Russian President Vladimir Putin of planning an invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The Kremlin rejects this.
At a crisis meeting in Geneva last Friday, Blinken promised his Russian colleague Sergey Lavrov an answer to Moscow’s list of demands for this week. The US Secretary of State said that in its written response, the US pragmatically assessed the concerns expressed by Russia and made clear its willingness to engage in dialogue. In addition, they want to make transparent how many US troops are in Ukraine. He assumed that discussions with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would now follow.
The US administration has repeatedly made it clear that NATO’s open-door policy is not up for negotiation and that Moscow cannot decide on other countries’ alliances. At the same time, Washington had agreed to negotiate with Moscow on other “mutual security issues,” such as arms control. (26.01.2022)
Ukrainian ambassador asks Germany for defensive weapons
The Ukrainian ambassador Andrei Melnyk welcomed the German commitment to deliver 5,000 combat helmets to his country, but said it was completely inadequate. “We are glad that we can at least see the beginning of a rethink,” said Melnyk.
The delivery of the helmets is merely a “symbolic gesture” by the federal government. He is counting on western partners to convince Germany to also supply Ukraine with defensive weapons. This also expressly included ships, because Ukraine lost almost its entire navy in the Russian annexation of Crimea. “The Germans have the systems for coastal protection, the Germans build the best ships in the world,” said the ambassador. Ukraine is all about self-defense. Melnyk sharply criticized the federal government’s reference to civilian aid for the country. “If we are faced with the threat of a new war, then we don’t need any advice from Berlin on how to increase energy efficiency in houses that may be destroyed or bombed tomorrow.” (26.01.2022)