Merkel and Biden call on Russian troops to withdraw from the border with eastern Ukraine
Fears are mounting that the conflict in Ukraine will escalate. President Merkel and US President Biden have called on Moscow to withdraw Russian troops from the Ukrainian border.
BPresident Angela Merkel (CDU) and US President Joe Biden have jointly called on Russia to reduce its troop reinforcements on the border with eastern Ukraine. This is the only way to “improve the situation,” government spokeswoman Stephen Seibert said Wednesday after a phone call with Merkel.
According to Ukrainian data, Russia has now attracted 41,000 troops along the border. Moscow talks about “war training”. In eastern Ukraine, fighting between pro-Russian rebels and government forces has escalated since mid-February.
According to Seibert, the president and the US president also talked about the situation in Afghanistan and how NATO troops could proceed. They outlined “the importance of close coordination and cooperation and the continued political commitment to the country.”
The fight against corona infection was also an issue. Merkel and Biden stressed the “importance of global and equitable access to vaccines” for which both countries wanted to “continue to campaign.”
Federal Foreign Minister Haiko Mass said there was no reason to stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the escalating conflict in Ukraine. The debate was “not necessary for a change in Russian behavior. (…) I think the opposite is true, ”the SPD politician told the ARD Tagesthemen on Wednesday.
AKK criticizes Russia
Defense Minister Annegret Gromb-Karanbour (CDU) had previously opened himself up to a moratorium on the construction of the nearly completed pipeline, i.e. to a temporary halt to construction. “You can ask yourself this question,” he said Tuesday after a meeting with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Berlin. Gromb-Karenbauer argued that if the pipeline between Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea was to be completed, action would have to be taken in accordance with Russia’s conduct.
One of the main points of controversy in German-American relations for many years was North Stream 2. The change of government in Washington earlier this year did nothing to change that. The United States fears that Europe is heavily dependent on Russian gas and that it wants to end sanctions. Proponents of the pipeline plan oppose Americans, saying they expect only better sales opportunities for their liquefied petroleum gas in Europe.
Kramp-Karanbauer accused Russia of trying everything to “provoke a reaction.” “We do not want to be involved in this game with Ukraine,” he stressed in the ARD “Morganmakasin”. Meanwhile, the Kremlin dismissed international concerns as “unfounded.”
The minister said the situation in eastern Ukraine was “very careful” and “more alarming”. “We will do everything we can to ensure that nothing increases here,” he promised. Ukraine has so far behaved very “wisely” and I am grateful for that. Kramp-Karanbauer insisted that NATO was on Kio’s side. At the same time, it is clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “waiting for a step towards NATO in order to have an excuse to continue, so to speak.”
In the wake of the tense situation in eastern Ukraine and massive Russian troop movements in the border region, NATO convened an extraordinary meeting of all NATO defense and foreign ministers in a brief announcement this Wednesday. Virtual consultations dealing with Afghanistan and Iran will also take place during the visits of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Brussels.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Blingen had already pledged NATO and US support for Kiev during the visit of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba on Tuesday. In a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the same day, US President Joe Biden also expressed his “concern” over the recent transfer of Russian troops and called for a reduction in Moscow. According to the White House, Biden Putin also proposed a summit in a third country.
The Kremlin announced Wednesday that it would “explore” Biden’s proposal. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the US ambassador to Moscow, John Sullivan, had been ordered to speak with the Russian Foreign Ministry. It was made clear to Sullivan that Biden’s initiatives must be preceded by “actions.” As the AFP learned from the Russian Foreign Ministry, Washington was warned against imposing new sanctions.