Germany 'to do all' to ensure Ukraine's security: Baerbock

AFP , Monday 17 Jan 2022

Germany will do everything in its power to guarantee Ukraine's security, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Monday on her first visit to Ukraine, amid rising fears of a Russian invasion.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock delivers a statement after a Berlin court sentenced a Russian suspect to life in jail after finding him guilty of gunning down a Georgian in Berlin, on December 15, 2021. AFP

"We will do our all to guarantee Ukraine's security. We will do our all to guarantee Europe's security," she said at a press conference following talks with her Ukrainian counterpart, a day before she is due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

The West has accused Russia of deploying tanks, artillery and about 100,000 soldiers on Ukraine's war-torn eastern border in recent weeks, in what NATO says is preparation for an invasion.

Moscow says this is a response to what it sees as the growing presence of NATO in its sphere of influence, where it fiercely opposes the expansion of the Atlantic alliance.

Speaking during a visit to Madrid, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said "we expect clear steps from Russia to de-escalate the situation".

"Military aggression against Ukraine would have serious political as well as economic consequences" for Russia, he added at a joint news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Baerbock's visit to Kyiv comes amid attempts to revive the so-called Normandy Format grouping of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine whose aim is to de-escalate the conflict.

Her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, told reporters following discussions that Ukraine and Germany were "committed to a diplomatic settlement of this conflict".

"Our joint goal is the effective work of the Normandy Format and the holding of a summit of leaders of the Normandy Format," Kuleba said.

He reiterated however Ukraine's intention to receive weapons from the West, after Kyiv in December accused Berlin of blocking the supply of NATO arms.

"Our dialogue with Germany on this issue will continue," Kuleba said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to hold his first meeting with Baerbock Tuesday.

He said in a statement ahead of the meeting that there would be "an in-depth exchange on current international issues, above all on the realisation of Russian proposals on security guarantees".

Lavrov said during a press conference Monday that Russia was awaiting "concrete answers" to a series of sweeping security demands in Europe.

He added that "Russia's leadership is capable of protecting its interests both in terms of security and in terms of ensuring the rights of Russian citizens".

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