Brussels/Moscow/Kiev, Feb 21 (EFE).- The European Union’s top diplomat on Monday called for mobilizing all forms of diplomatic efforts to avoid a war between Russia and Ukraine
“As many diplomatic tools that one could imagine should be mobilized,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters upon arriving at a meeting with the bloc’s foreign ministers to address the Ukraine crisis.
“Summits, meetings at the level of ministers, at the level of leaders, whatever format, whatever way of talking and sitting at the table and trying to avoid war is badly needed and we will support anything that can make diplomatic conversations the best way — the only way — to look for a solution to the crisis,” he added.
On Sunday, the United States agreed to hold a presidential summit with Moscow on the condition that it does not invade Ukraine and reiterated that all signs point to an imminent attack.
The Kremlin on Monday also said it was open in principle to a summit between Russian president Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden, but added that the plan was “premature.”
Borrell made it clear that the EU would impose sanctions on Moscow if diplomacy fails.
“The work is done. We are ready,” he said, adding he would present the sanctions at an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council “at the right moment.”
“When the moment comes, I will call for an extraordinary meeting, because sanctions are a competence of the Council.”
Meanwhile, chief of the Belarusian General Staff Maj. Gen. Viktor Gulevich said Monday that Russian troops would return to their barracks from Belarus when the “objective need” arises.
“The Russian Armed Forces will return to their bases only when an ‘objective need’ to do so arises and when we decide to do so. This is purely our internal affair,” he said, according to Belarusian news agency Belta.
Russia and Belarus on Sunday decided to prolong joint military drills, which means that Russian troops will not be pulled out as previously announced.
The exercises were due to end on Sunday but the decision to extend the drills adds more pressure on Ukraine and raises fears of an imminent attack on the country by Russia.
Ukrainian defense minister Oleksii Reznikov pointed out on Monday that he has not seen signs of a Russian troop withdrawal from Ukraine’s border, and estimated that almost 150,000 Russian soldiers are deployed along the border, including ground, sea and air forces.EFE