Ukraine: We need to avoid ‘bloody war’ says James Heappey
Glenn Diesen, a professor at the University of South-Eastern Norway, said it seemed increasingly clear that “the bloc only has itself to blame for the fact its members no longer have a seat at the top table”. Mr Diesen, writing in RT, observed that prior to talks last week, Washington agreed decisions over the continent’s security should include the EU and Ukraine, but then went ahead with a bilateral Russia-US format.
He claimed: “Simply put, Washington cannot do diplomacy with Eurocrats in the room.”
The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell told German media in December that the bloc should play an active role in the upcoming US-Russia talks.
In an interview with Die Welt, he said: “If Moscow, as announced, wants to talk about the security architecture in Europe and security guarantees from January, then this is not just a matter that concerns America and Russia. The EU must be involved in these negotiations.”
He added: “European security is our security. It’s about us. This is not simply the case for two states, i.e. America and Russia, or NATO and Russia — even if Moscow imagines it.”
The EU has been left out of talks between Russia and the US over Ukraine
A Ukrainian soldier with the 56th Brigade in a trench on the front line.
Mr Diesen, commenting on Mr Borrell’s remarks, wrote: “There is a certain irony to this statement, as the reason for this conflict is that the West has for the past 30 years unilaterally altered the foundations of the European security architecture over the head of Russia as the largest state in Europe.
“Legitimising unilateralism by dressing up power politics in the language of ‘democracy’ and ‘values’, Russian security concerns have been ignored for decades and pan-European security agreements based on the principle of ‘indivisible security’ have been violated.”
He claimed the EU’s failure to honour a 2005 Common Spaces Agreement agreement, committing both sides to pursue integration efforts in a mutually beneficial way, had led to marginalising Russia and the current standoff with its “possible cataclysmic consequences”.
A Ukrainian soldier uses a hand-held periscope to view the positions of Russian-backed troops.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
He predicted a divided Europe would become more and more irrelevant.
Mr Diesen wrote: “Diplomatic relations between the EU and Russia have virtually come to an end, which suggests that the bloc is losing its relevance as an institution to organise pan-European security.”
He concluded: “The talks about pan-European security should have started 30 years ago, as constructing a Europe without Russia would inevitably become a Europe against Russia. There is an imminent need to revive the art of diplomacy, which implies that the EU’s presence will be counter-productive.”
Reuters reports that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday Russia could launch a new attack on Ukraine at very short notice, but the US would pursue diplomacy as long as it could, even though it was unsure what Moscow really wanted.
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Who is Vladimir Putin?
Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea in 2014. It has massed about 100,000 troops on the border, but insists it is not preparing another attack.
Russian lawmakers called on the country’s parliament on Wednesday to appeal to President Vladimir Putin to recognise pro-Russian breakaway regions, Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, as independent states.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
On a visit to Kiev, Mr Blinken warned Ukrainians to prepare for difficult days ahead, adding Washington would carry on providing defence assistance to Ukraine. He renewed a promise of severe sanctions against Russia in the event of a new invasion.
However, a bill led by Republican Senator Ted Cruz which would impose sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany within 15 days of passage did not get the majority it needed to pass in the Senate last week.
Critics said the sanctions risked driving a wedge between the US and allies, including Germany, potentially harming a united front against Russia.
The Kremlin said tension over Ukraine was increasing and it was still waiting for a written response from the US to Russia’s sweeping demands for security guarantees from the West.
Mr Blinken is due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday in what a Russian foreign policy analyst called “probably the last stop before the train wreck”.