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Borrell: ‘EU must be involved’ in US-Russia talks on Ukraine

The EU should play an active role in the upcoming U.S.-Russia talks over security concerns around Ukraine, the bloc’s top diplomat told German media on Wednesday.

“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,” Josep Borrell said in a telephone interview with the German daily Die Welt. “The EU must be involved in these negotiations.”

Borrell’s remarks come amid fears of a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine as Moscow amasses troops along the border. Russian President Vladimir Putin is pledging to only withdraw his threat if the NATO military alliance commits to not expanding further east and specifically bars Ukraine and Georgia from membership — both nonstarters for NATO.

In the interview, Borrell noted that negotiations over the situation only make sense with the EU’s close participation, since the talks involve the entire European Continent’s future.

“European security is our security,” he said. “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.”

He also took a swipe at Russia’s unequivocal demands.

“This is the first time that the Russians have put their agenda on the table in writing, in the form of a real treaty. This has never happened before. Only winners do that: To say that and these are my conditions,” he noted, adding that the demands are “completely unacceptable.”

Instead, Borrell stressed the negotiations should focus on Russia’s infringements since the adoption of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The non-binding agreement signed by the U.S., the Soviet Union, Canada and European countries intended to ease post-war tensions and define a wide range of issues such as territorial integrity, borders, peaceful settlement of disputes and the implementation of confidence measures between opposing militaries.

“The territorial integrity of a country and the right of a sovereign state to decide on its own cooperation with other countries or alliances — these principles are not negotiable,” Borrell said.

In early December, the EU agreed to direct €31 million toward improving Ukraine’s military logistics and cyber defenses. The bloc is now considering approving another military training mission.

“We have already evaluated on the ground what Ukrainians need, how we can help concretely, what such a mission costs and who could participate”, he said. “I will soon submit a proposal to the EU countries.”

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