Russia a party to the conflict, not a mediator in Normandy format, says Von der Leyen

16 December 2021, 08:00 AM

Germany and France are mediators and observers in the Normandy format, while Russia is a party to the conflict, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Dec, 15, Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform has reported.

Von der Leyen made the comment when asked about the format of talks with Russia the European Union would use in the event of further aggression by Moscow against Ukraine.

“The format of the talks is quite clear,” Von der Leyen said. “The Normandy format was created after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. In this format, Germany and France act as mediators and observers, while Ukraine and Russia are the sides in the conflict.”

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“We’ll carry on working in this format as, in my opinion, it’s exactly what we need for this conflict.”

In summer the European Commission was tasked with working out potential options in the event of further Russian aggression against Ukraine, and they “have done their homework,” von der Leyen added.

“One of the main items on our agenda was the general concern with Russia’s massive military buildup on Ukraine’s border,” the EU Commission president said.

 “We urge Russia to de-escalate and abstain from any aggression. The EU pledges unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and national integrity. In the event of any further aggression against Ukraine, there will undoubtedly be a strong response from the EU.”

 In early December Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Russia had up to 100,000 troops positioned near Ukraine’s border and in the temporarily Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine. The Russian military is in a state of permanent combat readiness and could start an escalation of the war at any moment, Reznikov said, adding that he does not rule out a Russian invasion of other parts of Ukraine.

A number of U.S. and the EU officials have voiced concern over the situation on Ukraine’s eastern border. G7 foreign ministers also issued a joint statement on Dec. 12, warning Russia of the “massive consequences and severe cost” that would come in response to military aggression against Ukraine.

Earlier, during his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Dec. 7, U.S. President Joe Biden also “made clear that the US and its allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation,” the White House said.

 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky then said that during his phone conversation with Biden on Dec. 9 he had been assured that Russia was not planning a further escalation of its war on Ukraine.

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