European Union representative for foreign and security policy Josep Borrell arrived in Ukraine on a visit to show Brussels’ support for Kiev in the face of Russian threats, while the American Wall Street Journal published satellite images, saying that they show new Russian military reinforcements. On the border with Ukraine.
Borrell, who arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday, is on a tour in the east of the country, accompanied by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, during which they inspect the line of contact between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists, with whom Kiev has been locked in an armed conflict since 2014.
This is the first visit by a European foreign minister to the front line since the outbreak of the war in eastern Ukraine. The conflict that erupted after Russia’s annexation of Crimea left more than 13,000 people dead.
For its part, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that the visit “aims to confirm the support of the European Union against the backdrop of aggressive Russian measures.”
She added that Borrell will also discuss with his Ukrainian counterpart ways to “deter Russia from new aggression, including economic sanctions.”
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal published satellite images and flight control data that it said reveal new Russian military reinforcements near the border with Ukraine.
The newspaper reported that satellite images taken by the company “Maxar Technologies” showed a group of new military units in western Russia and the Crimea.
It added that it also showed the presence of more than 350 vehicles in an abandoned ammunition storage facility near the Russian town of Klintsy (north of the border with Ukraine) last December.
Private analysts are tracking Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine, thanks to satellite images, social-media posts and flight-tracking data https://t.co/p6Ode6oe37
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) January 4, 2022
Amid Western fears that Russian forces might invade Ukraine, Moscow has repeatedly denied having plans to attack its neighbour.
However, the Kremlin demands that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) not to include Ukraine – the former Soviet Republic – as a member, and that it withdraw its forces from areas close to the Russian borders.
Diplomatic efforts to defuse the Ukraine crisis have intensified in recent weeks, including a virtual summit held at the end of last December between Russian President Vladimir Putin and American Joe Biden.
On the ninth of this January, Russia and the United States will start talks in Geneva, Switzerland, on the Ukrainian issue, led by Wendy Sherman, the US Deputy Secretary of State and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Ryabkov, to be followed on the 12th of the same month by a meeting between Russia and NATO, and then a meeting on the 13th. Within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The US ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, said that stopping the escalation on the Russian-Ukrainian border is the most important goal of the talks that his country will hold with the Russian side in Switzerland.
Sullivan added – in statements to the Wall Street Journal – that Washington is determined to defend its allies, deter Moscow and prevent it from any further incursion into Ukraine.
He expressed his hope that the escalation in Ukraine would be reduced, and that the talks would lead to results that reassure all parties about peace and security in Europe.
In the same context, the White House said that National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan discussed with his counterparts from Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland a readiness to impose – he described as dire consequences – on Russia if it launched another “aggression” against Ukraine.
The White House added – in a statement – that Sullivan and his counterparts stressed the importance of de-escalation diplomacy, including the Strategic Stability Dialogue, and a commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.