Wednesday 21 February 2018

'Russia is at war with Europe' warn leaders at summit


Russia is at war with Ukraine - and so is effectively at war with the rest of Europe, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said yesterday, calling on Europe to supply Kiev with military equipment.

"It is the fact that Russia is in a war state against Ukraine. That means it is in a state of war against a country which would like to be closely integrated with the EU. Practically Russia is in a state of war against Europe," she told reporters as she arrived at an EU summit where European leaders met to discuss toughened economic sanctions on Moscow - specifically targeting Russia's finances, oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin and the country's vast mineral wealth.

EU threatens more Russia sanctions

"That means we need to help Ukraine... defend its territory and its people - and to help militarily, especially with the military materials to help Ukraine to defend itself. Because today Ukraine is fighting a war on behalf of all Europe," the leader of the former Soviet state said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny set out the Irish reaction, saying: "Clearly the European Union needs to set out its response here very clearly. It appears as if President Putin - at least to date - has been immune to any actions that have been taken by the European Union or by others."

European Commissioner President, Manuel Barroso, meanwhile said that the EU was prepared for new sanctions and pleaded with the Russian president to step back from the brink of outright war with Ukraine.

Conflict intensifies as Russian tanks obliterate village

"We are in a very serious, I would say, dramatic situation. We may see a situation where we reach the point of no return. If the escalation of the conflict continues, this point of no return can come," said Barroso.

The Lithuanian President added that an arms embargo on Russia should be stepped up by including a halt to sales under existing contracts - a swipe notably at France, which has so far managed to resist calls to cancel a deal to sell Moscow a strategic new hi-tech warship.

British PM David Cameron warned Russian President, Vladimir Putin, that there will be "consequences" if Russian troops are not withdrawn from Ukraine. Arriving at a summit in Brussels where EU leaders are due to consider beefing up sanctions against Moscow, Mr Cameron said the incursion was "completely unacceptable'.

Russian aggression puts Europe at risk

The gathering comes after Nato released images apparently showing Russia has deployed more than 1,000 soldiers and an array of tanks and artillery into the east of the country.

However, Mr Putin has denied that his forces are in Ukraine - and upped his rhetoric by reminding critics that Russia has nuclear weapons.

Mr Cameron, who held talks with Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko in Brussels earlier, said: "We have to address the completely unacceptable situation of having Russian troops on Ukraine soil. Consequences must follow if that continues."

Ukraine's President warns country on brink of 'all-out war' with Russia

Following his meeting with Ukraine's President Poroshenko, Mr Barroso said no one's interest was served by war on the continent.

"No one's interest is served by confrontation. This is simply not the way that responsible, proud nations should behave in the 21st century. Nobody is underestimating Russia's concerns. We are ready to listen to Russia's concerns. But political differences need to be resolved through political means," he said.

At the summit meeting in Brussels yesterday, EU leaders agreed to appoint Polish prime minister Donald Tusk president of the European Council (starting Dec 1) and Italian foreign minister Federica Mogherini will be foreign policy chief (as of Nov 1).

Sunday Independent

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