In talks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated Moscow’s demands for binding guarantees for security in Europe. This was announced by the Kremlin on Friday after a phone call between the two heads of state. Putin also said that Russia is now analyzing the written responses from the US and NATO to his proposals and then determining further steps.
According to the Kremlin, Putin also pointed out that the main concerns in Russia’s answers had not been taken into account. These include the demand for an end to NATO expansion, the renunciation of offensive weapons near the Russian borders and also the withdrawal of the bloc’s military potential and infrastructure to the positions of 1997. At that time, the Russia-NATO Founding Act was signed.
The US and its allies have also ignored the key issue of the “indivisibility” of security. This is enshrined in the principles of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other documents, it said.
By this Moscow means that a country must not strengthen its own security at the expense of the interests of another state. With this, Russia justifies its opposition to Ukraine’s admission to NATO, because it considers the advance of the military bloc to be a threat. Russia sees itself connected to parts of Ukraine through a centuries-long history and criticizes the fact that the USA and NATO have declared the country their sphere of influence – without considering Moscow’s interests.
According to the Kremlin statement, Putin has again insisted on fulfilling Kiev’s obligations in the Minsk peace agreement and on the planned special status for the breakaway eastern Ukrainian regions in the Donbass. In Paris, there were for the first time direct talks between Moscow and Kiev – with Franco-German mediation – on the Minsk agreement, which has not yet been fulfilled. Above all, the commitment to the ceasefire in the conflict region was reaffirmed. Other topics of the call were the fight against the corona pandemic, the nuclear agreement with Iran and questions of Russian-French cooperation. (28.01.2022)
Gerhard Schröder accuses Ukraine of “saber rattling”.
Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has defended the German refusal to deliver arms to Ukraine and has clearly rejected Ukrainian criticism. “I very much hope that the saber-rattling in Ukraine will finally really stop,” said Schröder in the podcast “Die Agenda”https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/.” Because what I have to hear there, also Assigning blame to Germany because of the reasonable cancellation of arms deliveries, sometimes that knocks the bottom out of the barrel.”
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) have clearly rejected the delivery of lethal weapons to Ukraine. Kiev has sharply criticized this. The government there demands, among other things, warships and air defense systems from Germany.
Schröder also saw the Russian troop deployment on the border with Ukraine as a reaction to NATO maneuvers in the Baltic States and in Poland. “Of course, this has an impact on thinking and threat analysis in Russia itself,” he said. You have to take that into account if you are looking for a settlement with Russia. The former chancellor does not expect a Russian invasion of Ukraine. “I don’t believe that. And I also don’t believe that the Russian leadership can and does have an interest in intervening militarily in Ukraine.” Schröder has been friends with Russian President Vladimir Putin since he was Chancellor. (28.01.2022)
BND chief Kahl: Putin has not yet decided on the attack
According to the Federal Intelligence Service, it is unclear whether Russia will attack Ukraine or not. “I believe that the decision to attack has not yet been made,” said the head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, Bruno Kahl, to the Reuters news agency. Now we have to see whether the diplomatic talks that have been initiated will find something that goes into the list of demands made by Russian President Vladimir Putin. “In view of his far-reaching demands, that’s quite a feat. But we also believe that he would be quite prepared to carry out his threats,” emphasized Kahl in one of his rare interviews with a view to the Russian troop deployment in front of the Ukrainian border.
In the event of an escalation, it is completely uncertain how Russia will proceed. “The crisis can develop in thousands of ways,” said the BND president. “These can be hybrid measures to destabilize the government in Kiev. It can be support for separatists in the east in order to push the demarcation line forward there a little, or provocation of regime change in Kiev.” Lines of demarcation are provisional demarcations between two sovereign territories. Kahl referred to the Ukrainian population: “The mood among the population has turned more clearly against Russia in recent years.”
Kahl did not want to comment on the question of whether and which sanctions should be taken against Russia in the event of an attack. He supports the federal government’s approach of putting all possible sanctions on the table, but leaving Putin largely in the dark about concrete steps. “As a principle, it is certainly better not to remain predictable,” said the BND boss. “It’s always an advantage, that’s what Putin does.” (28.01.2022)
Baerbock leaves German embassy staff in Kiev
In contrast to the USA and Great Britain, Germany does not want to move its embassy staff to the Ukrainian capital Kiev for the time being. “If economic actors have the feeling that the situation in Ukraine as a whole is uncertain or unstable, the willingness to invest will decrease. That is exactly what Putin would play into the cards,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) told the newspapers of Funke- media group and the French daily newspaper West France according to a preliminary report. Right now it is important not to destabilize Ukraine. Her message to Kiev is that they want to expand economic cooperation. According to the minister, the security situation for embassy staff is being continuously reviewed. If family members of diplomats want to leave the country voluntarily, they could do so at the expense of the Federal Foreign Office. (27.01.2022)
US government requests special session of UN Security Council on Ukraine crisis
The UN Security Council is to deal with the current Ukraine crisis for the first time. The United States requested a meeting of the most powerful UN body for Monday, as the German Press Agency learned from diplomatic circles. The consultations in New York are to be held in public, probably at 4 p.m. German time.
The US and its western allies fear a Russian invasion of Ukraine. They demand that the approximately 100,000 Russian soldiers who have gathered at the Ukrainian border withdraw to the rear. The Security Council is less likely to find solutions to the conflict. Rather, the US could use the international stage as a means of exerting pressure on Moscow. (27.01.2022)
Zelensky thanks Biden for US aid
US President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky have discussed the tense situation between Ukraine and Russia. The phone call was 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 Looking at the resumption of talks with Russia.
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)