UPDATED: EU leaders to meet on Russia on Thursday – EU official

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BRUSSELS, Feb 16 (Reuters) – European Union leaders will meet to discuss the buildup of troops by Russia on the Ukrainian border on Thursday at 1130 GMT, an EU official said.

The ad-hoc meeting will be held just before the start of a long-planned EU-Africa summit.

Earlier, European Union Council head Charles Michel said Moscow must choose between war and diplomacy amid a military build-up on Ukraine’s borders, urging Russia to demonstrate its will to de-escalation by actions rather than words.

“In the last two days, Russia has signaled that it may be open to diplomacy, and we urge Russia to take concrete and tangible steps towards de-escalation because this is the condition for sincere political dialogue,” Michel, who heads the EU Council grouping the bloc’s members, told European lawmakers.

“The choice today is a choice between war and tragic sacrifices that would go along with that war or the courage of a political engagement, the courage of a diplomatic negotiation”, he added.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Bart Meijjer; Editing by Toby Chopra)

Photo – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a speech on the EU-Russia relations, European security and Russia’s military threat against Ukraine, during a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 16 February 2022. The session of the European Parliament runs from 14 until 17 February. EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND

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