US, Germany say Russia raises “urgent” challenge to stability

Washington — The United States and Germany said on Wednesday that Russia’s military buildup near the Ukrainian border poses an “urgent and urgent challenge” to European security, and any intervention will have serious consequences.

But the country’s top diplomats left open to what those consequences would be and how the differences between Ukrainian armament and the controversial Russian gas pipeline would be resolved.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock sought to present a unified front to Russia after the meeting in Washington.

“Both Germany and the United States see Russia’s actions against Ukraine as an urgent and urgent challenge to Europe’s peace and stability,” Blinken said.

“We blame Russia’s military buildup at the Ukrainian border and Russia’s increasingly tough rhetoric, which continues to push the false story of Ukraine trying to provoke (Russia),” he said. Told. “It’s a bit like a fox saying that somehow the chickens have shown a threat and have no choice but to attack the poultry house.”

Bearbock agreed. “We jointly reiterated that Russia’s actions and activities have clear price tags, and that Russia’s new breach of Ukraine’s sovereignty has serious consequences,” she said.

The Blinken Bearbock meeting last week was a phone call between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a Sunday conversation between Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and on Tuesday, Biden’s National Security Adviser. Following a group discussion between Jake Sullivan and the five responders. Nordic countries.

It also preceded a series of meetings scheduled for next week involving NATO’s Foreign Ministers, senior US and Russian officials, the NATO-Russian Council, and the European Security Cooperation Organization.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock slammed her fist with Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Washington State Department on January 5, 2022. (Pool via Mandel Gun / AP)

“The real question is whether Russia is serious about diplomacy or deescalation,” Blinken said. “Let’s see where this is going in the next few weeks.”

Western officials have suggested a number of economically unfavorable sanctions that could be imposed if Russia acted. They include a near-total cutoff from the international financial system and steps towards greater NATO integration with non-aligned European countries.

However, with few details, Blinken refused to discuss them again. “I’m not going to send a telegram publicly, but I can confidently tell you that a huge amount of work is already underway. What will be done in the event of a new Russian invasion of Ukraine? Has very strong coordination and cooperation, and a very strong agreement. “

Germany is clearly essential as the Biden administration is working to build an international consensus on a range of possible disciplinary measures. Ensuring Europe’s largest economic support is key to both messaging and implementation of all decisions made.

Bearbock is the first German government diplomat in 16 years, led by Angela Merkel. She made a tougher tone against Russia than her predecessor. However, Germany is not in a confrontational position with Russia compared to many other European countries.

While business relations between Germany and Russia can provide leverage, they can also be an obstacle to building a united front for Moscow. Despite strong criticism from the United States, the new Prime Minister Olaf Scholz’s central left government has not indicated its intention to prevent the start of natural gas supply through a newly constructed pipeline connecting Russia and Germany.

Under Chancellor Merkel, Germany last year persuaded the Biden administration not to impose sanctions on the company building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Blinken said the pipeline was completed but not yet in operation, and if Russia invades Ukraine, gas flow through the pipeline is unlikely.

“If Russia resumes its invasion of Ukraine, it will certainly be difficult to see the gas flowing through Russia in the future,” he said. He said this would actually have an impact on Russia in the EU.

Baerbock has avoided the question of whether the pipeline will be operational in the presence of Russian intervention. But she said the new German government would follow an agreement signed last summer with Washington that Russia would not be allowed to use energy as a political weapon against Europe.

“If Russia uses energy as a weapon or continues to act aggressively against Ukraine, it has agreed to work with European partners to take effective steps,” Baerbock said.

Blinken did not directly mention her response, but said the United States would promote joint pipeline measures as needed.

“We work in a powerful way to effectively address energy issues and challenges, including those raised by Nord Stream 2’s judgment, and to maintain what is of great importance. Continue. Transatlantic solidarity. This is the most effective response and most effective tool we have to combat the Russian invasion, “he said.

Nord Stream 2 is a major concern in Washington, and Congress is expected to pick up two bills related to Nord Stream and other Russian sanctions next week, much like a conference in Europe is taking place. I am. The GOP bill automatically imposes Nord Stream sanctions, while the democratic version imposes broader penalties if Russia invades Ukraine.

Both Democrats and Republicans in Washington have accused Nord Stream 2 of increasing Russia’s influence over Germany and limiting Berlin’s willingness to respond to new invasions. Germany, like much of the European Union, relies heavily on Russia’s natural gas.

Blinken said the United States has provided Ukraine with weapons and will continue to do so if Russia is further attacked by Russian troops.

Bearbock said he “takes a different position on arms supply to Ukraine,” reflecting some German concerns that this could cause military tensions with Russia, but Berlin is Ukraine. He said he provided the military with a military hospital to help treat injured soldiers.

Matthew Lee and Frank Jordan

Associated Press