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World As the U.S. seeks to calm Russia tensions, Europe pushes to be included

12:07  06 january  2022
12:07  06 january  2022 Source:   cnbc.com

Russia, U.S. to Discuss NATO Expansion Next Week as Tensions Remain High With Ukraine

  Russia, U.S. to Discuss NATO Expansion Next Week as Tensions Remain High With Ukraine Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed the talks in an interview on Monday, which come after thousands of troops left the Russian-Ukrainian border.Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed the talks in an interview on Monday. He said that the "main work of negotiations" will occur after Russia celebrates its holiday season, which lasts through January 9, 2022. Lavrov stressed Russia will make sure its proposals " aren't wound up in endless discussions, which the West is famous for and which it knows how to do, that there is a result of all these diplomatic efforts.

  • There are key meetings between U.S., Russian and NATO officials next week amid concerns of a potential invasion of Ukraine.
  • The EU — the political and economic group of 27 nations — will not be present as a whole, despite several of its members bordering with Russia.
  • However, an analyst at consultancy firm Teneo, said that the exclusion of the EU from the talks is not surprising.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba visit the line of contact in Luhansk, Ukraine. © Provided by CNBC European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba visit the line of contact in Luhansk, Ukraine.

The United States and Russia are having key talks next week and the EU's top diplomat is disappointed that the bloc will not be around the table as well.

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A potential Russian invasion of Ukraine is a top concern for many leaders, given multiple reports of heightened military activity close to the border. In a bid to ease these tensions, top U.S. and Russian officials will be gathering in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday. This meeting will precede wider talks between Russia and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Wednesday.

However, the EU — the political and economic group of 27 nations — will not be present as a whole despite several of its members bordering with Russia.

"There is no security in Europe without the security of Ukraine. And it is clear that any discussion on European security must include European Union and Ukraine," Josep Borrell, the EU's high representative in charge of foreign affairs, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

US and Russia face deep differences ahead of Ukraine talks

  US and Russia face deep differences ahead of Ukraine talks WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — After tough talk between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin over the Russian troop buildup on the Ukraine border, both sides insist they are hopeful that a pathway to easing tensions could open during diplomatic talks set for January. But with less than two weeks to go before senior U.S. and Russian officials are to meet in Geneva, the chasm is deep and the prospect of finding an exit to the crisis faces no shortage of complications. Biden on Friday told reporters that he advised Putin when they spoke by phone a day earlier that the upcoming talks could only work if the Russian leader “deescalated, not escalated, the situation” in the days ahead.

"Any discussion about Ukraine must involve Ukraine first of all. And the talk about security in Europe cannot be done without not only the consultations, but the participation of the Europeans," Borrell said in Ukraine, where he visited the eastern part of the nation where low-scale military skirmishes between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian forces have been going on for several years.

This marked the first time that the EU's top diplomat visited the conflict-hit region.

However, an analyst at consultancy firm Teneo, said that the exclusion of the EU from the talks is not surprising.

"The sidelining of the EU from the upcoming talks is hardly surprising, given that NATO, and particularly the U.S., serves as the main guarantor of security in CEE (Central and Eastern Europe)," Andrius Tursa, said Wednesday in a note.

In fact, the EU as a whole does not have a strong defense capacity — it relies mostly on NATO, and to some extent on the U.S., when it comes to security.

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  Biden Talks of 'Acting Decisively' With Russia in Call With Ukraine The White House said: "President Biden made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine."The two presidents spoke on Sunday just days after President Biden spoke with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for a second time in a month amid tensions along Ukraine's border.

But, regardless of its security capacities, there's a lot at stake for the EU in upcoming talks with Russia, including on the energy front.

The majority of natural gas going into Europe already comes from Russia. In 2020, this represented about 43% of the total gas imports to the bloc, according to Eurostat. And a key pipeline between Russia and Germany, Nord Stream 2, is hanging in the balance amid the ongoing tensions with the Kremlin — this is a problem for Russia because it could be making more money from gas exports, and for the EU too because it could help containing some of the price increases registered in the last months.

Wolfgang Ischinger, former German ambassador to the U.S., told CNBC earlier this week that Nord Stream 2 is something that the EU can use to pressure Moscow.

"I think the pipeline represents a major item of leverage for us, if we handle it smartly," Ischinger, now chairman of the Munich Security Conference, told CNBC's Hadley Gamble.

An icy relationship

Borrell's aim to be included in the talks with Russia comes almost a year after a "humiliating" trip to Russia.

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The EU's top diplomat visited Moscow last February to voice the bloc's opposition against the arrest of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. During the trip, Borrell was heavily criticized after failing to rebuff comments from his Russian counterpart that the EU was an "unreliable partner."

This took the EU-Russian relationship to a new low, according to political analysts.

However, concerns about a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine are complicating their relationship further.

"The conflict on the borders is on the verge of getting deeper and tensions have been building up with respect to the European security as a whole," Borrell said Wednesday.

It is estimated that about 100,000 Russian troops have been deployed to the country's border with Ukraine. Both countries have been at war since 2014 — the year when Moscow annexed Crimea.

The Kremlin, for its part, has denied any plans to invade Ukraine.

However, Russia has demanded that NATO and the U.S. decrease their presence in eastern Europe and do not allow Ukraine to become a member of the military alliance.

One of the founding principles of NATO is that an attack against one of them is considered an attack against all.

Talks with Russia must prioritize Nord Stream 2 to deter Putin, Ukraine's Naftogaz CEO says .
The CEO of Ukrainian state energy giant Naftogaz says it is absurd for Nord Stream 2 not to be among the top priorities of international talks with the Kremlin.His comments come shortly after a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on Wednesday. It was the second high-level meeting this week between Western officials and Russia after high-profile talks between the U.S. and Kremlin officials on Monday. A further meeting is taking place at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna Thursday.

usr: 0
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