EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell arrives in Ukraine for first visit of 2022

5 January 2022, 01:52 AM

The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, landed at Kharkiv airport in northeastern Ukraine on Jan. 4 has he started his first official visit of the year, to Ukraine. 

Borrell was to travel to the capital, Kyiv, and visit the town of Stanytsia Luhanska, on the frontlines of Ukraine’s conflict with Russia.

The visit comes against the backdrop of a Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s eastern border and in the Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.

In a social media post from Jan. 4, Borrell said this was his first official visit in the new year, and that he was in the country to reiterate the EU’s support for Ukrainian sovereignty.

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“My first visit in 2022 is to Stanytsia Luhanska and Kyiv,” Borrell wrote. “With Russia’s increased military build-up, I am here to show EU support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and to support sustained reform efforts that are key to resilience.”

Borrell will stay in Ukraine until Jan. 6 and will afterwards report on the situation in Ukraine to the EU. 

Borrell spoke to Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba by phone on Dec. 23, saying that any further aggression against Ukraine by Russia would have massive consequences and severe costs. In late December 2021, Borrell also mentioned that the EU may be considering conducting a military training mission in Ukraine.  

According to data provided by the independent research group Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), Russia continues to amass new troops to Ukraine’s border, expanding existing military encampments and deploying more equipment and artillery. 

On Dec. 30, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danylov, stated that Ukrainian authorities did not foresee a direct Russian invasion, though earlier that month, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov predicted a surge in Russian military aggression might come against Ukraine in late January 2022.

Moscow has denied any plans for a large-scale invasion. At the same time, Russia has issued an ultimatum to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, demanding a ban on possible Ukrainian membership of NATO and the removal of any NATO troops and weaponry that may currently be in-country. 

Currently, over 100,000 Russian troops are estimated to have been deployed along the Ukrainian border.

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