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  • Writer's pictureThomas Cole

EU warns Russia of "massive consequences" as bloc offers Ukraine €1.2bn in assistance

EU foreign ministers call out "spheres of influence" approach

On Monday, EU Foreign Ministers warned Russian there would be "massive consequences and severe costs" of any military invasion of Ukraine.

Meeting in Brussels, via video-link with their US counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, they condemned Russia's military build-up.

In a written statement they underlined that "spheres of influence" had "no place in the 21st century".

Earlier, EU High Representative, Josep Borrell told reporters that Russia was "attempting to undermine the security structure in Europe".

"Notions of spheres of influence have no place in the 21st Century" - European Union

European Commission offers €1.2bn to Ukraine

Also on Monday, European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that the EU intended to provide €1.2bn in financial assistance to Ukraine.

She stated that the funding would be to help Ukraine "to address its financing needs due to the conflict".

Ms von der Leyen also underscored that Ukraine was "free and sovereign" and that the EU would "stand by its side".

"Ukraine is a free and sovereign country...The EU will continue to stand by its side." - Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President

In a reply on Twitter, Ukrainian President, Volodomyr Zelensky, wrote that he was "grateful" for the EU's offer of financial assistance.

Divisions amongst west on Ukraine military support

Despite today's rhetoric by the EU, when it comes to providing Ukraine with military hardware, there are differences between EU NATO members.

Ahead of today's meeting, Germany's Annalena Baerbock told reporters that "In the territory of our own alliance, we stand in solidarity and alliance with each other but we cannot mix up alliance territory with Ukraine."

"We cannot mix up Alliance territory with Ukraine" - Annalena Baerbock, German Foreign Minister

This position is at odds with other EU NATO members, such as the Baltic states, or non-EU NATO member such as the UK, which have provided Ukraine with hardware.

US & UK move out embassy staff ahead of possible attack

Separately on Monday, both the US and British embassies in Kiev evacuated family members of serving personnel, in the event of a military attack by Russia.

This decision comes just days after reports by British intelligence that the Russian Government had been looking to install a Moscow-friendly regime in Kiev.

Russia has continuously denied that it is attempting to invade Ukraine. However, Russian troops have been amassing on its border with Ukraine for weeks.

Russia has moved military hardware into Belarus, which borders both Russia and Ukraine.

West - Russia talks so far inconclusive

Today's talks between EU foreign ministers and Anthony Blinken followed an inconclusive meeting Mr Blinken had with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Geneva on Friday.

No breakthrough to resolve the Ukraine crisis has been made so far, despite multiple meetings between western and Russian leaders in recent weeks.

The Russian government has called for guarantees that Ukraine will never be admitted in to the NATO military alliance.

NATO members have continuously rejected this proposal. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has underlined that Ukraine has the sovereign right to determine its own future.

However, on Friday in Geneva, Mr Blinken underlined that the United States would reply to Russia's demands in writing.

How unified is the west against Russia?

Questions have been raised as to how united the west is if Russia were to launch a full-scale attack.

Last week both US President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron made comments which hinted at a lack of co-ordination on the west's approach to the crisis.

Mr Biden had initially suggested that there might be a difference between a 'minor' and a 'major incursion' before stating that any Russian invasion would be met by a response.

Mr Macron, meanwhile had suggested that the EU could reach out to Moscow for a separate line of talks. The Financial Times later cited French diplomats that this would in no way look to undermine existing US talks with Russia.

However, both the European Union and the United States are preparing economic sanctions' packages, should Russia invade Ukraine.

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