Europe can not be left out of Russia, US negotiations – POLITICO

The EU’s biggest fear is no longer that it will be pressured on the diplomatic side of the US and China – because it is now more afraid of being pushed out of the US and Russia.

Washington is leading talks to end tensions with Moscow after Russia moved about 100,000 troops to its border with Ukraine, and says it wants legally binding guarantees from NATO’s military alliance on its arsenal and its eastern expansion.

At a press conference on Wednesday as part of a two-day trip to Ukraine, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said, “we are no longer in the Yalta era” – a reference to the city of Crimea, where the United States, Russia and Britain held a key summit for to determine their spheres of influence after the end of World War II.

“The delimitation of the sphere of influence of the two great powers does not belong in 2021/2022,” Borrell said as he spoke with Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, who wants to join both NATO and the EU.

And while there are a number of meetings on Russia’s threat to Ukraine in the coming days and weeks – including a NATO-Russia Council and negotiations in the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a body involving the United States and Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and EU member states – the bloc wants to be sure to be fully involved in a discussion that is primarily about its security.

However, the EU has often proved to be a very inconsistent player vis-à-vis Russia and reluctant to put economic pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin. When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and conquered Crimea, EU states disagreed on whether to roll out economic sanctions. Poland and the Baltic countries called for a tough line, but expressed frustration over the soft stance on Moscow from the EU Foreign Service and Western member states.

Kuleba used the press conference with Borrell to reiterate that “Russia has no right to decide” on Ukraine’s future.

Borrell had already said that the EU wants to be fully involved in any dialogue on security architecture in Europe. But the visit to Ukraine (where he went to the eastern border, where Russian-backed separatists are fighting Ukrainian government forces) was an opportunity to make the point.

Next week, “we will hold the Gymnich meeting – the meeting of European foreign and defense ministers – where we will discuss how we will express our views on these negotiations, through coordination with the United States and talks with the Russians,” he added. whether or not they have to talk to us, rest assured. “

Borrell stressed that “I have not expressed dissatisfaction with these negotiations, if Russia wants to speak, it must certainly be organized … but in this dialogue there are no two actors alone, not only [the] United States and Russia. If we want to talk about security in Europe, Europeans must be part of the table. ”

He added that “there is no security in Europe without the security of Ukraine. It is clear that any discussion of European security must include the EU and Ukraine.”

But it may not be easy.

Diplomats say Russia has always preferred to talk to EU member states bilaterally rather than through the EU. A year ago, when Borrell tried to establish a direct dialogue with Moscow, he ended up being humiliated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a joint press conference and met with calls for him to resign or be removed from the role – questions that some diplomats privately repeat even now.

Borrell did not specify in what form the EU should be at the table, but said it could happen at a later date, as the negotiations are likely to take a long time.

“If Russia is really willing to talk about security in Europe, then Europeans should be a part of it, not the first day, but it’s not going to last just a day or a week,” Borrell said.

He also stressed that the new negotiations are different from those held by Washington and Moscow in June last year. And he pointed out that Moscow had replaced Beijing as the biggest concern.

“Allow me to remind you that last summer under the President [of the United States, Joe] Biden’s first trip to Europe, the primary cause for concern, was China, “he said. “And when President Biden and President [of Russia, Vladimir] Putin met in Geneva, it was assumed that the United States and Russia were in the process of building lines of communication. And we, the Europeans, listened mainly to these contacts between Russia and the United States. But now everything is different ”- as this time it is European security that is at stake.

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