The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said about the “serious fears” of the European Union because of the situation on the border of Ukraine and Russia. Brussels is “concerned about the redeployment” of the Russian military inside the country and calls on Moscow to reduce the number of forces on the southern borders. Russian exercises in the area allegedly create a “dangerous” situation, Borrell said. Earlier, other Western politicians made similar accusations and appeals. At the same time, the EU does not consider it dangerous to hold large-scale NATO exercises near the Russian borders, experts say. According to analysts, this is precisely the main factor of instability.
The situation on the border between Russia and Ukraine raises “very serious concerns” for the European Union, said EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, speaking at the end of an informal video conference of the EU Council at the level of foreign ministers.
“The build-up of Russian military forces near the Ukrainian border is very worrying. More than 150 thousand Russian troops are being drawn to the area of the borders of Ukraine and to the Crimea. The risk of further escalation is clear. Ukraine should be commended for its low-key response. And we urge Russia to de-escalate and defuse tensions, ”Borrell said.
He added that the position of all ministers is “very clear” and is that “resolute support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine is being reaffirmed.”
Even before the EU Foreign Affairs Council, Borrell emphasized that a “dangerous” situation allegedly developed on the Russian-Ukrainian border and called on Russia to withdraw its troops from the border with Ukraine.
- Joseph Borrell
- © Francois Walscherts
A similar statement was made on April 8 by White House press secretary Jen Psaki. Speaking at the briefing, Psaki noted that the United States “is increasingly concerned about the recent increase in manifestations of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, including the movement of Russian troops to the Ukrainian border.”
“There are now more Russian troops on the Russian-Ukrainian border than at any time since 2014. In this week alone, five Ukrainian soldiers were killed. All these events cause deep concern, ”she said.
Soon, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer demanded that Moscow “explain” the movement of servicemen and military equipment on its own territory.
“If Russia has nothing to hide, it would not be difficult for it to explain which troops are moving, where and for what purpose,” she wrote on Twitter, commenting on messages about the situation on the border between Russia and Ukraine.
In mid-April, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Presidents of France and Ukraine Emmanuel Macron and Volodymyr Zelensky called on Russia to “roll back military reinforcement.” This was announced to reporters by the representative of the German government Steffen Seibert. According to him, the leaders of the three countries “share the concern about the growing Russian military presence on the border with Ukraine, as well as in the illegally annexed Crimea.”
At the end of March, Colonel-General Ruslan Khomchak, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, announced that Russia was building up its troops in the area of the border with Ukraine.
According to him, recently Russia has allegedly increased the number of troops deployed near the Ukrainian border “under the guise of control exercises for the winter period of combat readiness exercises and general preparation for future joint strategic exercises” West-2021 “.
Speaking at an extraordinary meeting of the Verkhovna Rada, Khomchak argued that in general, up to 25 battalion tactical groups of the RF Armed Forces are expected to be transferred to the Ukrainian border, which “poses threats to the military security of the state.”
Moscow commented then on the accusations against Russia.
“The Russian Federation moves its armed forces within its territory at its own discretion. This should not bother anyone, it poses no threat to anyone, ”said Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Russian President.
He also stated that along the perimeter of Russia’s borders “there is an increased activity of the armed forces of NATO countries, other associations, individual countries.”
“This all obliges us to be on the alert,” added Peskov.
As the leading expert of the RISS Research Coordination Center, Sergei Ermakov, noted in an interview with RT, the movement of troops on its territory is a sovereign affair of any state.
“Russia has repeatedly come out with an initiative that involves the exclusion of unwanted interpretation of certain military exercises by notifying the other side, but NATO did not attach importance to these proposals,” the expert explained.
- A border guard with a service dog at the Dzhankoy checkpoint on the border of Russia and Ukraine
- © Vladislav Sergienko
According to Ermakov, the demands that are now being addressed to Russia in connection with the movement of its troops are absolutely illegitimate.
“Even if some actions of Moscow cause concern in the West, all issues should be resolved not through such propaganda statements, but through normal work within the framework of the Russia-NATO council. But today the alliance is not trying to increase the degree of mutual trust, but prefers the language of threats, ”the expert added.
A similar point of view is shared by Konstantin Blokhin, a leading researcher at the Center for Security Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
“Russia, like any other state, has the sovereign right to move its troops on its territory. With its statements, the West prepares the informational ground in order to present Russia as an aggressor and Ukraine as a victim in the event of an armed clash on the Ukrainian-Russian border, ”the expert noted in a commentary on RT.
Therefore, Western leaders deliberately ignore Kiev’s violation of the Minsk agreements, focusing on criticism of Moscow, Blokhin said.
“Brussels and the United States are using Ukraine as a battering ram, an instrument of restraining Russia, so they turn a blind eye to the fact that it is now pulling together the army in Donbass. Forgiving all mistakes to the Ukrainian side, they are pushing Kiev towards aggression, ”the expert explained.
At the same time, Russia has every reason for a number of defensive measures, he is sure.
“Considering the scale of NATO military exercises near the Russian border, as well as numerous hostile statements, the redeployment of Russian forces is fully justified from a defense point of view. Russia is demonstrating its readiness to defend itself, ”the expert added.
As analysts note, amid talks about the internal movements of the Russian military, the United States and NATO are building up their military forces near the borders of Russia. This activity was announced on April 13 by the head of the Russian Ministry of Defense Sergei Shoigu at a meeting in Severomorsk. The Minister noted that the main forces of the North Atlantic Alliance are concentrated in the Black Sea and Baltic region. In total, 40 thousand foreign servicemen and 15 thousand units of weapons and military equipment, including strategic aviation, will be concentrated near the territory of the Russian Federation, he added.
- NATO exercise Defender Europe 2020
- © US Army
According to Shoigu, in comparison with last year, the United States has also doubled the intensity of aerial reconnaissance and 1.5 – naval.
As previously noted by the representative of Ukraine in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) for Donbass and the freelance adviser to the head of the Ukrainian presidential office on strategic communications in the field of national security and defense, Oleksiy Arestovich, the scenario of a “war with Russia” will be worked out within the framework of NATO exercises Defender Europe 2021.
“Large-scale NATO exercises, which are called Defender Europe 2021, have begun … Their meaning is: what is being worked out in the water area from the Baltic to the Black Sea – let’s put it bluntly – a war with Russia, the topic of an armed confrontation with Russia. The main focus is the Balkans and Crimea and, of course, everything north of Crimea, ”Arestovich said in an interview with UKRLife.TV channel.
He also explained that the active phase of the maneuvers will begin in May, and before the official start, preparations are underway – the deployment and transfer of forces.
Speaking about the reasons for the growth of NATO military activity near the Russian borders, experts note the influence of the new White House administration. According to Sergei Ermakov, Joe Biden’s team chose a tough course towards Russia, which became the reason for the increase in tensions.
“This year’s NATO exercise Defender Europe 2021 is set to surpass all NATO maneuvers since the end of the Cold War. At the same time, NATO is surprised when such actions cause Russian concern. Under such conditions, Moscow has to demonstrate its power and readiness to give an adequate response, ”says Sergei Ermakov.
- NATO Exercise Decisive Strike 2019
- © REUTERS / Ognien Teofilovski
At the same time, such a course of the leadership of NATO, the EU and the United States negatively affects stability in Europe, the expert is sure.
“Due to the fact that the leadership of the alliance, Washington and Brussels present Russia as a potential military enemy, European countries are forced to get involved in the growth of military activity and increase military spending,” Yermakov said.
Konstantin Blokhin adheres to a similar point of view.
“The rhetoric of Western politicians is designed to demonize Russia in the eyes of the inhabitants of Western countries. In turn, this is necessary to justify their pressure on Russia. At the same time, Western allies are pushing Ukraine towards an aggressive course. Ultimately, Washington and the pro-American elites of European countries are behind these trends. It is about provoking a conflict on the European continent in order to finally drive a wedge between Russia and Europe, ”the expert summed up.