NATO and the EU on Thursday brandished the specter of “heavy consequences” against Moscow in the event of military intervention in Ukraine, after rejecting Russia’s will to veto Kiev’s possible membership of the Alliance.
“Any new aggression against Ukraine will have serious consequences and a high cost in response”, affirmed the heads of state and government of the 27 EU countries, meeting in summit in Brussels, in conclusions adopted at the ‘unanimity after several hours of discussion behind closed doors on possible European economic sanctions.
“Any further aggression against Ukraine would have serious consequences and the price to pay would be high”, added NATO in a statement issued simultaneously with the position of EU leaders.
“We will not compromise on Ukraine’s right to choose its own path, on NATO’s right to protect and defend all of its members and on the fact that NATO has a partnership with Ukraine” , said Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after a meeting at Alliance headquarters with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Russia demands that NATO “formally” renounce its 2008 decision to open the door to the accession of Ukraine and Georgia, a red line for the Kremlin.
No details of the planned response were to be communicated. “Leaving the adversary in uncertainty is the best way to use the weapon of sanctions,” explained a European diplomat.
A supporter of preventive sanctions, Volodymyr Zelensky did not hide his disappointment at the wait-and-see attitude of the EU. “Many European leaders generally do not understand what is happening at our borders,” he lamented.
While Ukrainian forces are fighting pro-Russian separatist forces in the Donbass region that Moscow is accused of supporting, Zelensky pledged “not to give in to provocations” and to “have no aggressive attitude”.
As for what follows, the 27 called for “encouraging diplomatic efforts” with Moscow within the framework of the “Normandy format”.
In this diplomatic configuration established at a summit in Minsk in 2015 and accepted by Vladimir Putin, France and Germany play the role of moderators in the talks between the two belligerents.
The Alliance for its part renewed its proposal to bring together the NATO-Russia Council, the consultation body created in 2002 between the two blocs. Moscow has so far rejected this proposal.