Putin’s threats against Ukraine: Europe is ready if “Russia dares to venture” – political

Thursday offered the next opportunity to get a glimpse of which is where the conflict over security guarantees for Russia, Ukraine and other countries in Europe. The 57 members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) gathered in Vienna. EU Foreign and Defense Ministers discussed the situation in Brest.

How much support can the United States count on and how much can Russia count on? Would the Europeans finally have a say, even if they weren’t at the negotiating table in Geneva earlier this week?

Russia finds no support in either body for its proposal to divide Europe into the spheres of influence of the great powers and deny the less powerful peoples their right to self-determination. The 27 states of the EU are clearly trying to appear united and increase their capacity for military action, also in order to reduce their dependence on the United States.

At the OSCE, the balance has shifted significantly in favor of Western democracies.

Moscow threatens troops in Cuba and Venezuela

Moscow called talks with the United States a failure. Chief negotiator Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said he saw no reason for further meetings. He called the demand for the withdrawal of 100,000 Russian troops from the borders with Ukraine unacceptable. He threatened to station Russian troops in Cuba and Venezuela if the United States did not respond to Moscow’s demands.

Putin’s chief negotiator Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said he saw no point in continuing talks with the …Photo: Denis Balibouse / KEYSTONE REUTERS PISCINE / dpa

EU foreign and defense ministers rejected Russia’s demand to drop the contractually agreed principle of freedom of association and provide a guarantee that no other state will join NATO. No more countries. Previously, it had been wondered whether some members would be prepared to inform Moscow unofficially that Ukraine would not be able to join NATO.

They also decided to take cautious steps to provide military support to Kiev. They want to train Ukrainian officers to defend themselves against cyber attacks. Compared to arms shipments from the United States, this is symbolic. However, that means actively taking sides against Russia and its military threat.

EU wants its own reaction force with 5,000 troops

Also on the agenda was the establishment of an emergency force of 5,000 soldiers. It must be decided in the coming months under the French Presidency of the Council of the EU.

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Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stressed that the EU must “act as one against autocratic actors like Russia and China”. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of independent states are part of the EU’s own interests, she replied at Vladimir Putin’s request that Ukraine be included in Russia’s sphere of influence.

An EU that “follows a common course and acts like a heavyweight,” Baerbock said. “If she acts divided, on the other hand, she is fighting under her weight class.”

France: We will react “if Russia dares”

French Defense Minister Florence Parly also affirmed: “We are ready to assume our responsibility and to draw massive consequences for Russia if Russia dares to attack its neighbor. These are mainly economic sanctions.

EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell contradicted the impression that the US and Russia were negotiating their future without Europeans being concerned. He is “in permanent contact” with the USA. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken kept him informed of talks with the Russians. There were “over 100 exchanges at all levels”. “Nothing will be decided without the participation of the Europeans”, summed up Borrell.

German diplomat Helga Schmid heads the OSCE as Secretary General. The association is currently chaired by …Photo: Lisa Leutner / AP / dpa

Russia is not as isolated in the OSCE as it is in the EU. But even there, a large majority of the 57 members reject Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that Europe should be divided into Russian and US spheres of influence, as was the case in the 44 years between end of the war in 1945 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

In the OSCE, the majority has moved towards democracies

During the Cold War, the OSCE’s forerunner organization, the CSCE, was founded as an instrument of detente policy. At that time, two blocs of similar international status faced each other: the Eastern bloc under the leadership of the Soviet Union and the Western democracies under the leadership of the United States. They agreed on principles such as the fundamental rights of all citizens, non-violence and the prohibition of violent border changes.

Since the fall of the communist dictatorships in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the balance has shifted. In the Charter of Paris, OSCE states agreed that each country could freely decide which alliances it would join.

Very few have since opted for the Russian-led alliance. 30 countries belong to NATO of their own choosing. Most unrelated countries – including Finland, Austria and Sweden – do not want to be divided into spheres of influence, but would seek their security within NATO in the event of further escalation.

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