The head of the European Commission and the new French EU leaders stressed the need for European involvement as Russia and the West continue to clash diplomatically over the possible threat of an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine .
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on January 7 that “one thing is clear: no solution without Europe. Whatever the solution, Europe must be involved”.
The United States and its EU partners have stepped up warnings about the major consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as Moscow assembles troops near their shared border and calls for security guarantees against the NATO expansion eastward.
Von der Leyen said the European Union is “very present” in Ukraine, including providing billions in financial aid to Kiev and relying on Russian natural gas deliveries via Ukraine.
Speaking alongside von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the direct US-Russian talks scheduled for next week, but stressed that “the European security architecture” is “for us to build”.
France officially took over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union in early January.
Western leaders are said to be working on what they have promised to implement financial and other harsh punitive measures if Ukraine escalates militarily against Ukraine.
Macron said “it is a good thing that there are discussions between the United States and Russia”, and added that “the coordination between the Europeans and the Americans is exemplary in the matter”.
But he called on the European Union to hold its own talks with Moscow.
“Dialogue does not mean making concessions,” he added.
NATO foreign ministers are due to meet virtually on January 7 to coordinate members’ approaches to Russia.
US and Russian officials are due to meet in Geneva on January 10. This meeting will be followed by NATO-Russia and EU meetings with a discussion of the Ukrainian crisis at the top of the agenda.