EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will visit Ukraine’s frontline this week in a show of support for Kyiv in the face of Moscow’s military buildup on its border, Brussels said on January 3.
Tensions have soared in recent months as the West has warned that Moscow could be planning a full-scale invasion of its neighbour after massing some 100,000 troops at the frontier.
High-ranking officials from the US and Russia are set to hold two days of talks in Geneva on the crisis starting January 10 after the Kremlin issued a raft of demands to Washington.
Borrell – who will meet Ukrainian officials in Kyiv during his visit from January 4-6 – has insisted that “any discussion about European security must happen in coordination with and participation of EU”.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has sought to assure European allies that it will act in concert with them, dismissing suggestions that it could seek a Cold War-style agreement that affects Europe without its participation.
In his latest round of calls, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke jointly by telephone with the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia and separately with his Turkish counterpart.
Blinken “stressed the US commitment to continued close consultation and coordination with all of our transatlantic allies and partners as we work toward de-escalation through deterrence, defense and dialogue,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
Borrell on his trip will visit the “contact line” where Ukraine’s armed forces face off against Russia-backed separatists.
Russia seized the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and is accused of fomenting a bloody conflict in the east of the country that has killed over 13,000.
Moscow insists that US-led military alliance NATO must rule out granting membership for ex-Soviet Ukraine and roll back its forces near Russia’s border.
The West has rejected what it calls a bid by Moscow to dictate the future of independent allies and threatened Moscow with “severe costs” if it launches a fresh incursion of Ukraine.