Faced with the growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, the authorities of Germany, the United States, France, Italy and the United Kingdom “expressed their determination that the sovereignty” of Kiev “be respected”, as indicated by the French presidency in a statement published on Monday.
The leaders of these five countries also indicated “Their commitment to act to maintain peace and security in Europe.”
The statement was launched after a video call between the five leaders on the eve of a videoconference meeting between the US president Joe biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Western powers and Kiev accuse Russia of preparing an invasion of Ukraine, while increasing military deployment on the border.
The White House warned this Monday that it was prepared to act in case of aggression, both through economic sanctions and by increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe.
According to the Elysee, the participants in the meeting pointed out the need for Russia to reactivate negotiations with Ukraine within the framework of the “Normandy Quartet”, a diplomatic group also made up of France and Germany.
Reflection of increased tensions with Moscow, the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday moved to the front line of the conflict that Kiev has been waging with pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country since 2014.
The week before, a senior US official told the newspaper The Washington Post that Russia was preparing for the beginning of 2022 a military offensive with up to 175,000 men.
Moscow repeatedly denied any bellicose intention and accused Western countries of multiplying the “provocations”.
A senior US official announced, on condition of anonymity, that Biden will warn Putin that he is willing to reinforce NATO‘s eastern flank, probably with “additional” troops, in case Russia attacks or invades Ukraine.
“They can hope that in the event of an invasion, the need to reinforce the confidence of our NATO allies on the eastern flank will be real, and the United States would be prepared to provide those kinds of guarantees.”said the official in a telephone press conference, a day before the telephone conversation that Biden will have with Putin on Tuesday.
The president of the United States will convey to his Russian counterpart that if he decides to attack Ukraine, Washington will impose “lasting” costs, and will be willing to give a “positive response” if he receives a request from NATO’s east flank to provide “forces and capabilities. additional to guarantee their safety ”, explained the source.
“President (Biden) will make it clear that there will be very real costs if Russia decides to go ahead (with an attack on Ukraine), but he will also make it clear that there is an effective path ahead (if it chooses the diplomatic path)”said the American official.
He clarified that the United States does not want to end up in circumstances in which “the focus” of its response to a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine revolves around the “direct use of US military force.”
Instead, their response would likely consist of a “combination of support for the Ukrainian military, strong economic measures (against Russia) and a substantial increase in support for the capabilities of NATO allies to ensure they are safe,” he said.
US Intelligence estimates that Russia has about 70,000 troops deployed, along with equipment and artillery, on the border with Ukraine., and suspects that it may be preparing an attack that would arrive in early 2022, according to official sources cited by US media.
Putin, meanwhile, wants to raise with Biden during the call his proposal that there be legally binding guarantees that NATO does not expand further into Russia and that it does not deploy weapons on Ukrainian territory, according to the Kremlin.
For his part, the US Secretary of State, Antony blinken, spoke by phone on Monday with the President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelensky, with whom he has “agreed positions” for the next call between Biden and Putin.
Zelensky indicated in a message on his Twitter account that he agreed with Blinken “Continue to act in a joint and coordinated manner”, while thanking Washington, its “strategic partner and ally”, for its “continued support for the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine.”
The US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, chaired a meeting with senior Pentagon officials on Monday to discuss the situation in Ukraine and western Russia, the spokesman reported, John Kirby.
The long-awaited telematic meeting between the presidents of the United States and Russia will take place this Tuesday, December 7. This meeting is the continuation of the face-to-face meeting held in Geneva on June 16, the first since Biden’s arrival at the White House in January.
The pulse around Ukraine, in fact, was the main protagonist of the meeting held on Thursday in Stockholm by the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov. Blinken insisted to Lavrov that a possible Russian intervention in Ukraine would have “serious consequences.”
(With information from AFP, EFE and Europa Press)
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