Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The European Union announced today that it had replied with a single letter to a series of Russian proposals to the Union’s 27 member states concerning European security.
The unified response is unlikely to be well-received in Moscow, where, earlier in the day, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had declared that a collective response would lead to a breakdown in talks.
Lavrov engaged in correspondence with all 27 EU member states at the end of January. However, EU diplomats noted his efforts were seen as an attempt to sow division among the member countries, counting on their differing levels of animosity and friendliness towards Moscow.
According to the European Commission, the EU High Representative Josep Borrell decided to send a single reply on behalf of all member states in order to demonstrate unity. “The member states of the European Union agreed that the High Representative should reply to the message by Minister Lavrov in the name of the 27”, a Commission spokesman told media on Thursday.
While the contents of the letters Lavrov sent to individual EU states were not made public, Reuters cites diplomats as saying they related to Russia’s concerns about security on its western borders, and EU efforts to resolve tensions through diplomacy.
With Russia posting some 130,000 combat-ready troops on its border with Ukraine, in the occupied Crimea peninsula, and in Belarus as part of joint military drills, the West is increasingly concerned about the possibility of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is refusing to move his troops away from the border, while denying he has any plans to order an invasion. Moscow has been demanding a series of security guarantees from NATO and western countries in recent weeks as a prerequisite for defusing the ongoing tensions.