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EU prepares “heavy” sanctions to “dissuade” Moscow

The Europeans still hope to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin through dialogue to renounce a possible invasion of Ukraine, but they began on Friday January 14 to prepare “lourdes»Sanctions against Moscow for the«deterAnd to assert their credibility vis-à-vis their American ally.

«We have a will to dissuade Russia, a convergence of analysis, a collective determination to act and the will to make the EU heard“, Assured the press to the press the head of French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian, whose country currently chairs the European Union, during an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers organized Thursday and Friday in Brest, in the west of France. “Sanctions are on the table. The conviction is that the risk of a Russian intervention in Ukraine is real and we must be ready to reactAnother minister told AFP. “We must not take weeks to agree, as was the case with the annexation of Crimea in 2014“, He underlined. A new discussion is scheduled for the official ministerial meeting on January 24 in Brussels, he said.

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Russia has massed nearly 100,000 troops, tanks and artillery on the borders of Ukraine. She denies wanting to proceed with a military intervention, but does not convince. “Putin is a chess player», Noted a European leader. “He is unpredictable, but now is the time to act, because, if he waits, Ukraine will be stronger“, He declared to explain his fears fed by the multiplication of incidents.

The cyberattack on several government websites in Ukraine on Friday confirmed the fears of Europeans. “It is extremely worrying. A cyber attack can precede military activitiesAustrian Minister Alexander Schallenberg commented. “This is exactly the kind of thing we fear“, Added his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde. “We have to be very firm in our response to Russia and say that if there are attacks on Ukraine we will be very tough, very strong and robust in our response.», She insisted.

Europeans still rely on dialogue and diplomacy. German Minister Annalena Baerbock said she was going to Moscow next week for talks “at all levels». «Diplomacy, especially in times of crisis, is characterized by great perseverance, great patience and strong nerves.She commented.

But Moscow showered the goodwill of the Europeans. “I see no reason to sit down to the (negotiating) table in the next few days, meet again and start the same discussions all over again.», Declared the Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Riabkov, after the deep differences noted during the talks in Geneva with the Americans and a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels. “Ask Moscow if it’s a bluff“, Jean-Yves le Drian told AFP.

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«Be credible»

Moscow demands that NATO undertake in a legal and binding manner to renounce the accession of Ukraine and Georgia, whose candidacies have been accepted by the Alliance, and withdraw its soldiers from the countries which have become members since the Alliance. collapse in 1991 of the Soviet Union.

Europeans fear a “new Yalta», A bilateral agreement between Washington and Moscow on security in Europe. Their credibility is at stake. Dependent on Russian gas and their economic relations with Russia, they have always been reluctant to follow the United States in the confrontation with this country. In Brest, they never ceased to praise the coordination “absolutely perfectWith the Americans. But they find it difficult to follow Washington on its sanctions options for fear of retaliation. Energy, finance, technologies, targeted sanctions against the Russian president: the range proposed by the United States is wide and it divides, especially in Germany, where the use of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as a lever is refused by the Social Democratic Party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

«The credibility of Europeans depends on their ability to adopt heavy sanctionsAcknowledged the minister consulted by AFP. «What counts is deterrence, it is being credible on what would be decided if Russia engages in a new intervention in Ukraine», Explained a diplomat involved in the discussions. “But what a failure for deterrence if we have to apply them», Underlined the Minister. It would mean that we have failed to avoid a conflict “.

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