Germany has said it is prepared to pay “a high economic price” to defend its values, as NATO members engage in another week of intense diplomacy amid a build-up of Russian forces close to the Ukrainian border.
Western countries have threatened Russia with severe sanctions if it attacks Ukraine.
More than 100,000 troops with tanks and other heavy weapons are stationed in western Russia, some within tens of kilometers of the Ukrainian border. Kiev and its Western allies fear another offensive is imminent, while the Kremlin claims the deployment is to defend against NATO expansion.
Against that tense backdrop, German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock met her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow on Tuesday and said Germany would defend Europe’s fundamental values.
“Those general rules are the foundation of our common European home. For Germany, they are the basis of our existence. Therefore, we have no choice but to defend those general rules, even if it means paying a high economic price.” , said Barbock.
Bairbock belongs to Germany’s Green Party, which is part of the coalition government that took power from Chancellor Angela Merkel in early December. It is facing a growing crisis in the eastern part of Europe.
“More than 100,000 Russian soldiers with tanks and guns have gathered near Ukraine for no reason in recent weeks. And it’s hard not to see this as a threat,” Burbock said.
Lavrov dismissed those concerns.
“We don’t threaten anybody with anything, but we listen to threats that are made to us,” Lavrov told reporters after the meeting. “We will act according to concrete action, concrete action. And our response will obviously be based on what concrete action our allies take,” he said.
In talks with the US earlier this month, Moscow demanded that NATO withdraw its deployment to Eastern Europe and promise never to accept Ukraine as a member.
The United States and its allies rejected those demands, and Russia refused to withdraw its troops from the border.
“We explained that we cannot accept any demands regarding the actions of our armed forces on our soil,” Foreign Minister Lavrov said.
Lavrov said bilateral talks with the United States can resume only if Washington responds to Moscow’s proposals to defuse the crisis. The US has already rejected Russia’s demands, and talks appear to be at a standstill.
German-Russian talks are taking place in the midst of another week of intense diplomacy.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to visit Kiev and Berlin, as the West aims to present a united front. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg held talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Tuesday and reiterated the coalition’s position.
“The risk of conflict is real. NATO allies call on Russia to de-escalate, and any further aggression will come with a high cost for Moscow,” Stoltenberg told reporters.
nord stream 2
Germany said the cost could include the continued suspension of Nord Stream 2, a recently completed pipeline that could send Russian gas directly to Germany. Moscow is eager for gas – and money – to start flowing, says Philip Medunik, an expert on Russian energy at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
“If Ukraine is indeed going to launch a full-scale invasion, it will be difficult to argue for keeping Nord Stream 2 in operation. It is sometimes forgotten that the current situation, if played well, is So Europe gets some leverage,” Medunik told VOA.
Meanwhile, Britain this week began to describe Ukraine as a “light anti-armor weapon”. The United States has already supplied Kiev with anti-tank weapons and said it would increase supplies of military hardware if Russia invades.