Germany says Russia will pay ‘a high price’ if it attacks Ukraine

German foreign minister said she hoped diplomacy could ease tensions between Moscow and Kyiv

Alexander Ratz,Pavel Polityuk
Monday 17 January 2022 17:19
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<p>File photo: Russian soldiers take part in drills in the Rostov region in southern Russia, 13 January 2022</p>

File photo: Russian soldiers take part in drills in the Rostov region in southern Russia, 13 January 2022

Germany’s foreign minister has warned Russia that it will pay a “high price” if it attacks Ukraine, and said she hoped tensions between Moscow and Kyiv could be solved by diplomacy.

Minister Annalena Baerbock spoke in Kyiv on Monday on a tour that next takes her to Moscow after talks between Russia and Western states on the Kremlin’s deployment of tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine’s border ended with no breakthrough.

The United States said last week it feared Russia was preparing a pretext to invade Ukraine, which Moscow denies. A cyber attack against Ukraine has heightened alarm.

“Each further aggressive act will have a high price for Russia, economically, strategically, politically,” Ms Baerbock told a joint news conference with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba. “Diplomacy is the only way.”

Despite the border deployment, Moscow denies it plans to attack Ukraine and has demanded NATO stop its eastward expansion.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, visiting Madrid, said everything must be done to avoid military intervention in Ukraine.

As they spoke, Russian military forces and hardware were arriving in Belarus after Minsk announced the neighbours would stage joint manoeuvres next month, state news agency Belta reported.

The “Allied Resolve” exercises will be held near Belarus’s western rim, the borders of NATO military alliance members Poland and Lithuania, and its southern flank with Ukraine, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said.

Ukraine’s Kuleba said Kyiv and Berlin were united in pushing to revive four-way peace talks on ending the war in eastern Ukraine in the so-called “Normandy” format, which includes Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia.

Excluded from much of last week’s talks, Ukraine has sought and received reassurances from allies that no decisions would be taken about its future without its involvement and assent.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (left) and her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba greeting each other in Kyiv, Ukraine

“It is important for us now that neither Berlin nor Paris makes any decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine, and does not play any game behind our backs in relations with Russia. This is the key now,” Mr Kuleba said at the briefing.

Germany has supported Ukraine with aid and diplomatic backing in its standoff with Moscow since Russia seized the Crimean peninsula and backed separatists in the Donbass region in 2014.

But there are points of contention.

Ukraine opposes Nord Stream 2, a pipeline, yet to open, that would ship Russian gas to Germany, circumventing transit through Ukraine. Baerbock said the pipeline was on hold and did not comply with European energy law.

Kyiv has also bristled at Berlin’s refusal to sell weapons to Ukraine. Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk called the decision “very frustrating and bitter” in an interview with German media ahead of Ms Baerbock’s visit.

Reuters

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