US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the Kremlin to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis in a phone call with his Russian colleague Sergey Lavrov. The US State Department said Blinken had demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops and equipment from the border with Ukraine and called on Moscow to take the diplomatic route. Lavrov said Russia insists on discussing security issues in Europe.
The West cannot enforce its own security at the expense of Russian interests, Lavrov said after the talks. He emphasized that the states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have committed themselves to the principle of “indivisible security”. Russia insists on that. A discussion about “why the West does not want to fulfill its obligations” is necessary.
During the conversation, Blinken emphasized that the United States was ready to talk to Russia about mutual security interests. With a massive Russian troop buildup near Ukraine, there are fears in the West that the Kremlin is planning an invasion. Moscow denies that. (01.02.2022)
SPD leader Klingbeil warns Russia
According to SPD co-leader Lars Klingbeil, Russia must expect a “tough and consistent” response from the West if it violates Ukraine’s borders. The leadership of the SPD is united on this issue, said Klingbeil on ARD after a meeting of around 20 leading social democrats on the subject of Russia.
In view of the allegations made by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) against Ukraine, Klingbeil pointed out that the SPD politicians in power today agreed that the current escalation was clearly coming from Russia. “All options are on the table,” he emphasized when asked whether the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2 could also be subject to sanctions in the event of a war. “But it’s also about preventing a war in the middle of Europe,” stressed Klingbeil. That is the priority for the coming days and weeks. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has the support of the SPD. (01.02.2022)
Johnson announces money for Ukraine
Before leaving for Ukraine, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced further support from his country for Ukraine. With 88 million pounds (equivalent to around 105 million euros) they want to help the country become less dependent on Russian gas and strengthen anti-corruption initiatives. “As a friend and democratic partner, Britain will continue to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty against those who seek to destroy it,” Johnson said in a statement before his departure. They call on Russia to find a diplomatic solution and “avoid further bloodshed.”
Johnson now wants to make up for a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin that was postponed because of the “Partygate” affair on Wednesday. The prime minister is playing an “active role” in finding solutions to the escalating conflict over Ukraine, his spokesman said. (01.02.2022)
USA: “Largest mobilization in Europe for decades”
The United States has warned of a “dangerous path” to war in view of the Russian troop deployment on the border with Ukraine. “This is the largest – hear me loud and clear – mobilization of troops in Europe in decades,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the United Nations Security Council in New York. These are combat units “ready to carry out offensive actions in Ukraine.” Washington does not want a confrontation, but in the event of an invasion of Ukraine, the US would act quickly.
The United States requested the Security Council meeting because they and their Western allies feared a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Washington is demanding a withdrawal of around 100,000 Russian soldiers gathered at the Ukrainian border to the rear. Before the Security Council – in which, in addition to Russia, China, the USA, France and Great Britain can block any internationally binding measures because of their veto rights – concrete solutions to the conflict were not expected. Rather, the United States wanted to use the international stage to send “a clear message” to Moscow with the help of its allies.
At the beginning of the Council meeting, Russia tried to avert the meeting at the last second with a vote. With 10 of the 15 member states, however, enough countries voted for the deliberations. The five permanent members have no right of veto on procedural matters – decisions can then only be made with a majority of at least nine votes. (01.02.2022)
US withdraws families of diplomats in Belarus
Amid rising tensions over the Ukraine crisis, the US State Department has ordered family members of US government employees to leave Belarus. In its travel advisory, the US government warned of “unusual and worrying Russian military equipment along the Belarusian border with Ukraine”. The situation was unpredictable, there was increased tension. Travel to Belarus was previously advised against – the highest danger level 4 still applies. In addition to warnings about Corona or arbitrary enforcement of laws, the situation on the border with Ukraine has now been supplemented.
The US government had already reduced its embassy presence in Kiev in mid-January because of the Ukraine conflict. Family members of diplomats had been asked to leave Ukraine.
The US government looks to Belarus with concern. The transfer of soldiers to Ukraine’s neighboring country raises fears that Russia may intend to attack Ukraine from the north, they say. According to the US Department of Defense, Russia continued to deploy troops there over the weekend. (01.02.2022)
The United States and Russia are at odds in the UN Security Council
Russia has dismissed warnings from the United States about the deployment of troops on the Ukrainian border in the UN Security Council as war hysteria. At the first public confrontation between the two sides before the most powerful UN body, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield spoke on Monday in New York of the “largest mobilization of troops in Europe in decades”. Russia’s representative Wassili Nebensya replied: “The discussions about the imminent danger of war are provocative in and of themselves. They almost call for it. They want it to happen.”
The Russian diplomat pointed out that his country strictly rejects all allegations of planning an invasion. “And I will now (also) do that.” The West spreads propaganda and operates “megaphone diplomacy”. The US requested the meeting because the West feared a Russian invasion of Ukraine, a former Soviet republic. Russia – like the United States, has always been a UN veto power – could not prevent the meeting.
Washington is demanding the withdrawal of around 100,000 Russian soldiers from the border into the hinterland. Western diplomats had said beforehand that a renewed and clear Russian refusal to invade the Security Council would have a more official character than previous statements from Moscow. This could be used as a bargaining chip in the conflict.
US Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield dismissed the accusations made by her Russian colleague: “Threats of aggression on the Ukrainian border – yes, on the border – are provocative. Our acknowledgment of the facts on the ground is not provocative.” These are combat units “ready to carry out offensive actions in Ukraine.” (31.01.2022)
Klingbeil: Government and SPD leadership closed on the Russia question
SPD co-leader Lars Klingbeil has rejected the impression that the government and the SPD are at odds over Russia policy. “It’s absolutely clear to us: We’re experiencing an escalation that’s coming from Russia,” said Klingbeil on ARD when asked if there weren’t differences in his party and the traffic light government. “We are very clear that all options are on the table should Russia attack Ukraine,” he added, referring to possible sanctions.
There has been a debate for weeks as to whether there should also be sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Klingbeil also reacted to controversial statements by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD), who had accused Ukraine of saber-rattling. “Many can express themselves, but as the current SPD leadership, we make decisions together with Chancellor Olaf Scholz.”
The SPD co-leader has convened an internal party meeting for the afternoon to discuss Russia policy. According to the party, this is a long-term process to bring together the various poles in the largest governing party on Russia policy. Klingbeil referred to a dual approach of determination and dialogue. “We are also clear that it is now a question of organizing peace. I do not want us to get into a situation through threats or actions in which a war situation suddenly arises in Europe – perhaps unintentionally,” said he.
The SPD co-chief had previously rejected arms deliveries to Ukraine. It is right that Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) are now leading the way in order to develop diplomatic initiatives from the heart of Europe. (31.01.2022)