Russia’s approach to Ukraine is ‘dangerous’ says Nuland
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Brussels is currently fearing it could be the closest it has been to war since the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. A senior EU diplomat said current tensions with Russia, which has placed tens of thousands of troops close to its border with Ukraine, could bring Europe to the brink of war.
The EU has warned Moscow of “extreme consequences” should a military invasion of Ukraine be staged, something Vladimir Putin has denied is taking place.
Mr Putin has issued a list of various demands, including an everlasting ban on Ukraine becoming a member of NATO, as well as other former Soviet Union states.
NATO has point blank refused to meet Mr Putin’s request, and recent summits have failed to find common ground between the two powers.
What Russia plans to do next isn’t clear, but western powers believe the country has invested too much in its actions toward Ukraine to simply let the issue slide.
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The mood in the bloc is reportedly nervous, as Europe could be heading toward its biggest security crisis in decades.
But the EU isn’t preparing for a drawn-out ground war like many would expect.
The overarching concern among NATO and EU members is Mr Putin is attempting to covertly destabilise Europe to mix up the power balance in favour of the Kremlin.
But as is often the case, bloc leaders are far from united over the right course of action to take.
In the USA, President Biden’s administration is growing impatient for the bloc to take the next steps in preventing Russia from taking further steps against Ukraine.
Mr Biden’s team has asserted the Kremlin is considering a “false flag” operation, where it deliberately lays the groundwork to fabricate reasons for invasion, such as blaming Ukraine for an attack carried out by covert Russian operatives.
Mr Biden wants the EU to take a forceful position, implementing strong sanctions on Russia, by their next meeting on January 24.
But a number of EU countries are uncertain about the cost of potential sanctions, which could have a huge effect on individual economies throughout Europe – and while a key EU policy is burden sharing, this still might not please all.
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Another impact sanctions on Russia could have is gas supplies, much of which comes from Russia.
Europe is already experiencing an energy crisis, as is the UK, after global supply shortages push up the cost of wholesale gas to new highs.
In an attempt to rush the EU into agreeing a stance on Russia, Washington has confirmed it is looking into ways to soften the impact a further energy crisis could have.
At home, the UK is supplying Ukraine with short-range anti-tank missiles and training for their armed forces, confirmed by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.
While a Brussels diplomat told the BBC the UK Government is “probably too wrapped up in domestic political scandals to have geopolitics top of its in-tray right now”, they also openly admitted the UK is fully engaged in the issue, as part of its NATO membership.
Other nations have also begun to prepare for a potential conflict: Finland has moved hundreds of troops to the strategically important Gotland Island in the Baltic Sea, and Denmark has also strengthened its presence in the region.
Finland and Sweden are also experiencing a reignited debate on whether they should join NATO.
The Biden administration has insisted there is no time to lose in getting the situation, which is likely to advance quickly, under control.
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