Brussels-The European Union’s Foreign Policy Officer estimates that Russia has already gathered 150,000 Russian troops near the Ukrainian border with the largest military buildup ever.
EU foreign policy director Josep Borrell did not reveal where the figures for the 150,000 Russian army came from, but the 110,000 people presented by Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran on April 14. Greater than the estimate.
Borrell also said Monday that the state of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was “critical” and a group of 27 countries would hold the Kremlin responsible for his health and security.
Despite the tense progress, Prime Minister Borel said after a virtual meeting of EU Foreign Ministers, “for the time being, there is no move to slap Russia in the area of further sanctions.”
He also requested a synchronous move of EU diplomatic expulsion at a stand-off between EU member states Czech Republic and Russia following Prague’s accusations that Moscow was involved in the 2014 powder detonation explosion. He said he didn’t.
More dangerous at this point, according to Borel, was the grouping of Russian troops, including military field hospitals, and “wars of all kinds.”
“This is the greatest military deployment of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border in history. When deploying many troops, it is clear that it is a concern,” Borel said. “Well, sparks can jump here and there.”
More than 14,000 people have died in a seven-year battle between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, which erupted after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. The EU has categorically opposed the annexation, but couldn’t do anything about it.
Efforts to reach a political solution have come to a standstill, and ceasefire violations have become more and more frequent in recent weeks in the eastern industrial center of Ukraine, known as Donbas.
Diplomats said they would try to put more pressure through diplomacy.
And over the weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron said that while dialogue with Russia is essential, a “clear red line” with possible sanctions must also be drawn with Moscow over Ukraine.
“Overall, relations with Russia have not improved, but on the contrary, tensions have increased in many ways,” Borel said.
“We call on Russia to withdraw their troops,” Borel said.
By Raf Casert