The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, assured Thursday that “shelling has begun in some parts of the border” of eastern Ukraine, but said that EU countries will not approve sanctions against Russia until “the level of intensity of the aggression requires it”.
Borrell assures that “shelling has begun” in eastern Ukraine
“We have had news about a withdrawal of (Russian) troops, but there is no evidence of that,” Borrell said after a meeting of EU heads of state and government to discuss the tension around Ukraine, at which they took no decision.
“What we have evidence of and we are very concerned about is about increased fighting and heavy shelling in some parts of the border, exactly the part that I visited in early January,” Borrell said, referring to a visit he made to the line of contact in eastern Ukraine.
The head of European diplomacy also said that “in recent hours” they have noticed “a lot of disinformation on the part of Russia to create an atmosphere of attacks against Russians in this part of Ukraine.”
“And if we add to that that the Duma (the Russian lower house) has voted to ask President (Vladimir) Putin to recognize the independence” of the separatist Donetsk and Lugansk regions, “the whole package increases our concerns,” he said.
“Certainly, we are much more concerned,” Borrell said.
Before attending the meeting with the EU-27, the head of European diplomacy had been this morning at NATO headquarters, where NATO defense ministers yesterday assured that Russia has increased its military presence on the border with Ukraine.
Borrell said that he “is ready” to present “as soon as possible” to his European counterparts the package of sanctions against Russia that the EU has been preparing with its Western allies.