Wednesday

22nd May 2019

Nato warns of Russian military build-up, amid EU peace talks

  • The Nato statement stands in contrast to the EU's latest Russian diplomacy (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Nato has again warned of a “build-up” of “Russian forces” in and around Ukraine, one day after EU ministers shied away from Russia criticism.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg told press in Brussels on Tuesday (18 November): “We have confirmation … about a military build-up inside Ukraine, but we are also seeing a build-up on the Russian side of the border”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“We are speaking of troops, equipment, artillery, very modern air-defence systems. This is a serious military build-up”.

“We see that Russia is still destabilising Ukraine … and we call on Russia to pull back its forces from eastern Ukraine”, he added.

The former Norwegian PM spoke before his first-ever meeting with EU defence minsters.

His words stand in contrast to a softer statement by EU foreign ministers on Monday which spoke of “troops without insignia from across the Russian border” and of “foreign forces” inside Ukraine without blaming Moscow.

Polish foreign minister Grzegorz Schetyna said it was designed to “leave space for further talks” with Russia.

Regular EU-Russia summits and bilateral EU-Russia summits were put on hold by EU leaders earlier this year.

But German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is in Moscow on Tuesday, while EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini is considering a similar trip.

Meanwhile, Ukraine itself has warned that Russia is preparing a new “full-scaled offensive” despite Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s talk of peace at international events.

It has also urged Nato to give it modern weapons.

Nato and EU states have ruled out arming Ukraine, with German chancellor Angela Merkel, who met Putin at a G20 summit on Saturday, saying: “It would lead to military confrontation with Russia”.

Nato is helping Ukraine to fund new military logistics, command and control capabilities, and cyber-defence capacities in what Stoltenberg called “full support”.

He “welcomed” Merkel’s diplomatic efforts, noting that “both the EU and Nato want a peaceful solution”.

But with some Nato states saying the EU should prepare new economic sanctions in case Ukraine's warning comes true, Stoltenberg added: “Russia has a choice … Russia can either be part of a peaceful, negotiated solution or Russia can continue on the path of isolation”.

The Dutch defence minister, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, on Tuesday also said: “It is … up to the Russians to show they are serious about letting tranquility return to Ukraine”.

The defence ministers’ meeting is to check progress on last year's EU decision to “pool and share” procurement of high-end military technology and to develop joint EU capabilities, such as surveillance drones.

It will also take stock of EU military missions around the world.

The EU currently has five military operations - in Bosnia, the Central African Republic, the Horn of Africa, Mali, and Somalia - as well as 11 civilian initiatives.

On 1 December, some 50 EU experts will start helping Ukraine to rebuild its police force and gendarmerie.

Kalman Mizsei, the Hungarian diplomat running the mission, said on Monday it will grow to 100 EU staff and 70 local personnel in the coming months.

EU countries keen to rebuild Russia relations

Forty eight hours after Nato said Russia is pouring troops into Ukraine, EU ministers opted to blacklist some “separatists” while trying to restart talks with Moscow.

Merkel: Russia cannot veto EU expansion

Germany has warned that Russia might try to spread its “sphere of influence” to the Western Balkans, while seeking new ways to make peace on Ukraine.

Nato solidarity lacks public support

More than half of Germans, Italians, and French are opposed to honouring Nato's Article V in a conflict between Russia and a neighbouring Nato state.

News in Brief

  1. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  2. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  3. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  4. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll
  5. Austrian government chaos as far-right ministers step down
  6. Farage hit by milkshake during campaign tour
  7. New president dissolves Ukraine's parliament
  8. Sweden Democrat MEP ousted for revealing sex harassment

Opinion

Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all

The foreign affairs minister of Haiti calls for the replacement EU-Africa, Caribbean, Pacific 'Cotonou' agreement of 2000 to be updated to take account climate change, infrastructure and tourism to help the country transition away from aid-dependence.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us