EU ‘negotiating from a weak point’ with Russia says expert
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The European Union faces being frozen out of high-level talks between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden over Ukraine, according to the president of the Eastern Circles think tank Anastasiya Shapochkina. The US and Russian leader reportedly held a two-hour video call on December 7 and Ms Shapochkina warned that bilateral talks between the two superpowers have “erased Europe from the negotiations entirely”.
Ms Shapochkina told France24: “The European Union is negotiating from a weak point in this situation.
“Already with bilateral talks with President Biden President Putin, President Biden had consulted with the European allies before which on the surface reinforces the position of the West.
“However, it also erases Europe from the negotiations entirely, negotiations about Ukraine, where France and Germany are part of the Normandy Format and have positioned themselves as mediators in the conflict nevertheless, are disappearing now in this new configuration.
“Which has been very much desired and achieved by Russia, which is more or less a Cold War configuration where two great powers the US and Russia, which want to protect itself as a great power, negotiate about the fate of Europe among each other.”
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She continued: “In terms of leverage that European has, of course, there is, for example, Nord Stream Two, and that is the red line for Europe that Europe is not ready to cross because the most powerful state in Europe, Germany, has personal and financial and a strategic stake in this project. A project which is very dear to the Kremlin, however, which has not been on the table.
“The sanctions, including in the energy sector have not, for example, ever stricken gas exports to the European Union with Russia is responsible for about 30 percent of the gas inputs to the EU.
“Because any sanctions that you protect against Russia are going to be shooting Europe itself in the foot.
“Given the number of business interests and the foreign policy interests of major European states.”
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Biden warns of 'severe consequences' if Putin moves on Ukraine
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned Moscow of “severe costs” if Russia were to invade Ukraine.
“I made very clear our deep concerns and our resolve to hold Russia responsible for its actions, including our commitment to work with European allies to impose severe costs and consequences on Russia if it takes further aggressive action against Ukraine,” Mr Blinken told a news conference at the end of November.
“It’s now on Russia to de-escalate the current tensions by reversing the recent troop buildup, returning forces to normal peacetime positions and refraining from further intimidation and attempts to destabilise Ukraine.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has denied Moscow was seeking a conflict in Ukraine.
“We’re going to make sure we are heard but the main thing is our security,” Lavrov told a news conference.
“So if NATO still refuses to discuss this theme or the guarantees or ideas put forward by the president of Russia Vladimir Putin, of course we will take measures to ensure that our security, our sovereignty and our territorial integrity does not depend on anyone else.”
Ukraine says Russia has amassed more than 90,000 troops near its eastern border, while Moscow accuses Kyiv of pursuing its own military build-up.
Russia says it feels threatened by growing ties between NATO and Ukraine, which wants to join the alliance, and the possibility of NATO missiles being deployed against it on Ukrainian soil.
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