Europe is united in face of Russian attempts to undermine European democracy, MEPs said today, as they re-iterated a common stand in front of Russian aggressiveness with increased military movements close to the Ukraine border and through hybrid electronic attacks.
In a press briefing, the Chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Security and Defence Subcommittees David McAllister (EPP, DE) and Nathalie Loiseau (Renew, FR), insisted that while the EU remains open to dialogue with Russia, it will remain firm on its principles and will not hold back in imposing unprecedented sanctions should Russia decide to intervene in Ukraine.
The pair were speaking at a press briefing as a high-level European Parliament Delegation prepares to jet off to the Ukraine on Sunday to gather first-handing information on the situation on the ground while expressing solidarity towards the Ukrainian population as threats of a Russian invasion mount.
“The EP is determined to play its role to communicate a unified European position and to show our solidarity with Ukrainian citizens, in front of military build-up and hybrid attacks. The EU is united in the face of Russian attempt to undermine European security and democracy. The EP has a role to play in communicating support for the strongest possible support should Russia take military steps”, McAllister said.
The MEP insited that Ukraine’s territorial integrity is non-negotiable and that Russia’s attempts to create spheres of influence to not belong to the 21st century.
MEP Nathalie Loiseau added that Putin is testing the resolve of both Europe and the relationship with the United States: “Russia wants to divide Europeans and the transatlantic alliance – this strategy is failing. Never Europeans and Americans have been so aligned on the dissuasion of the use of military power. We have a strong will to find a diplomatic way to de-escalate tensions from this country which has already suffered too much”, but warned that should diplomacy fail, the EU is willing to go much further than it has ever gone.
Earlier this week, Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said Aal kinds of financial sanctions against Moscow are possible should Russia attack Ukraine: “In terms of financial sanctions and trade of goods, everything is on the table,” Schallenberg told reporters after some countries raised doubts whether cutting off Russia from the SWIFT global messaging system should be an option for sanctions on Moscow.
The visit is part of large-scale diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the situation and avoid the disastrous consequences of a possible war in Ukraine. Russia continued its military build-up near Ukraine this week with thousands of additional troops and modern weapons being deployed to Belarus,
The European Parliament delegation will meet with the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and has requested meetings with the President, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers and the deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration. They will also hold talks with the Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council and Members of the Verkhova Rada’s Committees on Foreign Affairs, on Ukraine’s Integration
In a resolution on Ukraine, adopted in December, the European Parliament expressed its support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. The EPP has even recently suggested the use of military assistance to support Ukraine. The EU has also recently proposed a 1.2 billion euro financial aid package to Kiev to mitigate the effects of the conflict with Russia.