BRUSSELS – Russia will be subject to “severe consequences” if it acts militarily against Ukraine, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen warned in an interview with Euronews.
The US claims that Russia has more than 100,000 troops close to Ukraine’s borders and has threatened to invade.
Moscow denies that it would like to start a war. Moscow denies that NATO expansion is near its borders poses a threat to national security and seeks a guarantee that Ukraine, which was once part of the Soviet Union, will not join the transAtlantic alliance.
Von der Leyen stated, “We shouldn’t give up on diplomacy.” “But, we are clear that if Russia continues to militarily attack Ukraine, this will have serious consequences and huge costs for Russia.”
She stated that the EU has prepared a comprehensive and robust package of sanctions against Moscow in case the worst happens. President of the European Commission, von der Leyen stated that the package so far is only about the economic and financial sector.
It would restrict Russia’s access the European Union’s financial markets, as well as limit Russia’s access to vital goods and technology that it requires. These cannot be easily replaced or supplied.
“Russia has a one-dimensional economy. It is primarily focused on exporting fossil fuels. It is vital for Russia to have these goods and capital. Therefore, it must be in Russia’s best interest to de-escalate.
These comments were made by Von der Leyen after a high-level meeting between Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister, and Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Orban described sanctions as an “unsuccessful instrument” that is “destined to fail” during a joint press conference.
“There is unity within the European Union and there is a strong alignment. When asked about Orban’s comments, von der Leyen stated that they are always in contact.
“Hungary has supported sanctions against Russia for many years, and they have stated that they will continue to support them if necessary.”
Energy crisis concerning
TransAtlantic partners may try to present a united front to deterrence. However, European governments are aware that their citizens and companies will be the ones affected by new Russian sanctions. This is due to the close ties between the continent’s gas-rich neighbour.
Some are afraid that the Kremlin will retaliate and cut or block energy supplies. This could lead to blackouts across the bloc. In an area where there is a persistent power shortage, electricity bills have already soared.
Von der Leyen stated that she was confident that the EU would resist such a drastic move due to the marked rise in imports from other international partners of liquefied Natural Gas (LGN), which reached record levels in January.
This would be a serious situation. However, we have done our research and are actively working to prevent such a scenario. There was only one LNG terminal in Europe when Crimea was annexed in 2014. We have now built over twenty. She explained that we can receive LNG gas from other sources around the world.
Recent days have seen EU officials in close contact from Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Qatar to discuss potential gas purchases. The EU and the US will hold a Washington energy council on Monday.
“We spoke to many LNG suppliers around the world who are very interested [in filling] the Russia-related gap and to supply LNG to Europe,” von der Leyen stated, urging EU countries not to lose sight of the green transition and to invest in “independent” and “home-grown” renewable systems.
What does Russia have to say?
Moscow wants NATO to stop its eastward expansion and to exclude Ukraine from membership. He also wants NATO to reduce its military force. These are conditions that he would like to see in an international treaty.
NATO and the USA have already provided their point-by points response. Putin rejected it, arguing that the West continues to ignore Russia’s security concerns. He said that the standoff could be solved diplomatically if Putin’s demands are considered.
Vladimir Chizhov (the long-serving Russian ambassador to Europe) sought to allay fears about a possible military incursion last week.
Euronews was informed by Chizhov that Russia has no plans to invade Ukraine or any other country. “It’s not a bluff made in Russia, but in those countries who are now spreading this hysterical message throughout Europe and the rest of the world.” — Euronews