Tuesday, May 17

Conflict in Ukraine – Blinken: no progress if Russia maintains a “gun to Ukraine’s temple”

(Belga) Diplomatic progress with Russia will be “difficult” if Moscow keeps “a gun to Ukraine’s temple” and does not engage in “de-escalation”, US foreign minister Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

“The real question is whether Russia is serious about diplomacy,” he said in a press conference with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock in Washington ahead of talks between the West and Moscow scheduled for next week. “It is very difficult to make real progress in all these areas in an atmosphere of escalation and threats, with a gun to Ukraine’s head,” he warned. The Europeans, the Americans and Kiev have accused the Russians for several weeks of amassing tens of thousands of soldiers on the Ukrainian border with a view to a potential invasion. They have repeatedly threatened “massive” and unprecedented sanctions if the Kremlin were to act. Russia for its part is demanding an agreement limiting NATO enlargements to its doors. US-Russian talks are due to open Monday in Geneva, followed by a Russia-NATO meeting and another within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “There can be no decision on security in Europe without Europe. It is crucial (…) to involve partners in Europe,” said Annalena Baerbock. “There will be nothing about Europe without Europe. Not just full coordination and consultation, but also participation,” Antony Blinken promised in return. The US Secretary of State also said, even more clearly than in the past, that Germany will have to prevent the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from coming into operation if Russia attacks Ukraine. “If Russia renews its aggression against Ukraine, it would certainly be difficult to see gas flow into it in the future,” he said, explaining that Nord Stream 2, seen as a potential leverage of the Russians with regard to Europe, thus becomes conversely “a lever” for Europe against the Russians. The German environmental minister, who has taken a similar position in recent weeks but is not necessarily on the same wavelength as her social democratic chancellor Olaf Scholz, has been more evasive, referring to a US-German agreement concluded last summer on the matter. Nord Stream 2 is ready to operate and deliver gas to Europe, its operator and Russian President Vladimir Putin assured at the end of December, but Germany has suspended its certification. (Belga)

Reference-www.rtl.be

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