The European Union is urging Russia to de-escalate by a substantial withdrawal of military forces from the proximity of Ukraine’s borders, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.
Russia’s massive build-up of armed forces in and around Ukraine remains of grave concern, Borrell said.
This escalation is now compounded by the increase in ceasefire violations along the line of contact in eastern Ukraine in recent days, he said.
“The EU condemns the use of heavy weaponry and indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas, which constitute a clear violation of the Minsk agreements and international humanitarian law. We commend Ukraine’s posture of restraint in the face of continued provocations and efforts at destabilisation,” Borrell said.
The statement said that the EU is extremely concerned that staged events, as noted recently, could be used as a pretext for possible military escalation. The EU is also witnessing an intensification of information manipulation efforts to support such objectives, it said.
“The EU sees no grounds for allegations coming from the non-governmental controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of a possible Ukrainian attack.
“The EU urges Russia to engage in meaningful dialogue, diplomacy, show restraint and de-escalate.”
Borrell said that, as stated before, any further military aggression by Russia against Ukraine would have massive consequences and severe costs in response, including restrictive measures coordinated with partners.
“The EU reiterates its unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders,” he said.
Separately, the European Commission said that, following a request from the government of Ukraine for emergency assistance due to the threat of further escalation, the EC was coordinating the delivery of essential supplies to support the civilian population via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
This was to support Ukraine’s preparedness efforts for all possible scenarios, the EC said.
European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič said: “The EU stands in full solidarity with the Ukrainian people, also with concrete support.
“Once Ukraine asked for our assistance, we have been working around the clock to help the authorities.
“Immediate civil protection assistance is on its way. Already Slovenia, Romania, France Ireland and Austria have made the first offers and I expect more assistance in the coming days from other EU member states,” Lenarčič said.
The initial assistance offered via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism includes:
- From Slovenia: A million non-medical disposable masks, 125 000 pairs of latex gloves, 125 000 pairs of nitrile gloves, 200 pairs of rubber boots and 10 diesel power generators (6 kW)
- Romania: 5000 packs of analgesics, 5000 packs of anti-inflammatory, 5000 packs of antibiotics, and 840 litres of disinfectants for hand treatment
- France: 15 tents, 300 family tents, 1500 ground sheets, 2100 blankets and 300 sleeping bags, 500 hygiene kits, 25 dry latrines, 3000 chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) gloves, 10 000 vinyl gloves, 50 000 surgical masks, 36 medicines boxes, each able to treat hundreds of patients, and one advanced medical post able to treat 500 wounded people.
- Ireland: 10 000 protective suits, 50 000 surgical masks, 2583 litres of hand sanitiser.
- Austria: 50 000 litres hand disinfectant, 9000 litres surface disinfectant, 50 000 safety goggles, 50 000 face masks and 20 000 non-sterile gloves.
The EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre is in constant contact with the Ukrainian authorities to channel further assistance and the EU stands ready to provide further help as requested, the Commission said.
(Photo: Sébastien Bertrand)
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