The EU’s top diplomat has warned Russia and the US against creating “spheres of influence” in Europe ahead of talks between the two countries next week on Moscow’s proposals to reform the continent’s defense and security architecture.
Russia, which has raised fears of a possible military attack on Ukraine after deploying more than 100,000 troops near its border, the US and NATO have demanded to agree to security promises that will ban former Soviet states from joining the western military alliance and limited where U.S. troops could be stationed in Eastern Europe.
Next week’s negotiations will see Russian officials hold meetings with a US delegation and with NATO, EU demands ignored that it deserves a seat at the talks.
But Josep Borrell, head of the EU’s foreign and security arm, warned that it was not time for an agreement similar to the Yalta agreements reached between leaders of the Soviet Union, the US and the UK that divided Europe into the World War II, and that Brussels will eventually have to play a role in the talks with Moscow.
“We are no longer in the Yalta era,” Borrell said on Wednesday during a visit to Ukraine. “Spheres of influence for two great powers do not belong. . . in 2022. In this dialogue, there are no two actors alone, not just the US and Russia. ”
Russia denies plotting to overthrow President Vladimir Putin potential military action if its security demands issued to the US and NATO last month are ignored.
US and Russian officials will meet in Geneva next Monday, before the Russian delegation attends a special session of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels two days later.
While Borrell said the EU could not be a “neutral spectator“On the issue, bloc officials told the Financial Times that the union’s absence from direct talks with Moscow is a reflection of its lack of foreign policy power and internal divisions over its defense strategy.
But Borrell promised that the EU would play a role in a later stage of the negotiations.
“If Russia is really willing to talk about security in Europe, then Europeans should be a part of it,” he said. “Not the first day, but [these negotiations] will not last just one day or one week. . . Like it or not, they will have to talk to us, be sure of that. ”
Borrell’s visit to eastern Ukraine took him to the front line of the war being waged between the Ukrainian army and rebels backed by Moscow since early 2014. It was the first time that the EU’s top diplomat had paid a visit to the conflict – torn region.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba spoke with Borrell and said any discussions on Ukraine should involve Kiev. Ukraine will not be present at the US or NATO talks, but is expected to attend broader talks with Russia organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, scheduled for Thursday 13 January.