EU defence and foreign ministers meet in France over deadlock with Russia

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  • Josep Borrell
    Spanish politician

At the meeting in the western French city of Brest, the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell underlined that the European Union must define concrete steps in its response to Russia's military build-up on Ukraine's border.

Speaking on Wednesday, Borrell said Russian proposals on how to resolve the standoff "contravene the principles of the European security architecture".

His statement came ahead of today's meeting of 54 EU defence and foreign ministers that's set to continue until the end of the week.

Borell accused Moscow of brandishing an "open threat" of military action if these demands were not met.

Washington and its allies have accused Russia of planning an invasion after massing some 100,000 troops near Ukraine's border.

"Working with the US and Nato, the EU must now define what we can do to uphold the security order of Europe and the principles underpinning it - which are clearly under threat today," Borrell said in a blog post published on the EU's diplomatic service webpage.

The issue, he said, would be at "the top of the agenda" at the ministerial meeting that runs until Friday.

"Going into that meeting, two things are clear: we have to come to a united EU position and we have to substantiate our role, backing it up with concrete action tracks, ie not just on what we think or want but on what we intend to do," he said.


Russia's ambition, he said, was "to challenge the political and security order born after the Cold War", which included the right of each state "to freely choose to belong, or not to belong, to an international organisation and to be a party to treaties or alliances".

Borrell called Moscow's challenge to that order "revisionist".

The principles of non-use of force and respect for states' territorial integrity were also being violated, he added.

In an interview with regional French daily Ouest France, Borrell said that Russia aimed to divide Western allies but that he had "the assurance that the United States will not play along", with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stating clearly that "nothing will be discussed or agreed with European participation".

Borrell, who last week visited the Ukraine border, told Ouest France that the atmosphere there was "bellicose" despite Russian claims that the build-up was just a military exercise.

The EU was not aiming to develop its own centralised army, Borrell said, but was seeking instead to apply agreements to develop joint military capacities.

"Which ones? How? Why? Those are the questions our European defence policy must answer," he said.

(With agencies)

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