EU warns Russia against invading Ukraine

Status: December 17, 2021 12:22 a.m.

European leaders have threatened Russia with retaliation in the event of an attack on Ukraine. An invasion will have “massive consequences”. The corona situation had also been discussed beforehand.

The EU is unanimously threatening Russia with retaliation in the event of an attack on Ukraine. At their summit in Brussels, the heads of state and government adopted a declaration to this effect. It states that Russia urgently needs to defuse the tensions created by the deployment of troops on the border with Ukraine and aggressive rhetoric. Any further military aggression would have “massive consequences and high costs”. Sanctions coordinated with partners were cited as an example.

The EU fully supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the other heads of state and government left open which sanctions could be involved. According to diplomats, sanctions against state-owned companies and oligarchs around Russia’s President Vladimir Putin are being discussed.

In addition, an operating ban for the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany and the exclusion of Russia from the Swift payment system are options.

Scholz emphasizes the inviolability of borders in Europe

In view of the deployment of Russian troops, Scholz described the inviolability of the borders in Europe as “one of the most important foundations of peace”. One will “do everything to ensure that this invulnerability actually remains”. To avoid war, Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron secured support for mediation efforts at the EU summit.

The statement said that diplomatic efforts are being encouraged to achieve full implementation of the 2015 Minsk Agreement – particularly in the so-called Normandy format – an attempt by Germany and France to mediate between Ukraine and Russia. Recently, however, there has been little progress.

The findings that Russia has concentrated tens of thousands of soldiers in areas not far from Ukraine are of particular concern at the moment. According to information from NATO circles, it was last between 75,000 and 100,000. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on the sidelines of a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj that there were no signs that the military build-up would stop or slow down. “The opposite is the case: it goes on.”

Possible limitation of the validity of vaccination certificates

At the beginning of the EU summit, the heads of state and government had already discussed the worrying corona situation. In the fight against the highly contagious Corona variant Omikron, the EU is relying on accelerated booster vaccinations. “Offering vaccinations for everyone and providing booster doses is crucial and urgent,” said the joint conclusions on the corona pandemic, which the European heads of state and government adopted.

There are also plans to limit the validity of vaccination certificates for travel within the EU to nine months. Since some countries such as France, Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Greece have already tightened their entry rules because of the Omikron variant and the EU fears a patchwork of different travel regulations, the validity of the vaccination certificates should be standardized across the EU. Corona vaccination certificates should only be valid for a maximum of nine months for trips within the EU, as it was said.

Motivation for booster vaccination

The EU Commission wants to make a corresponding proposal before Christmas. The aim is to motivate citizens to get quick booster vaccinations. So far, the vaccination certificates recognized throughout Europe were valid for an unlimited period.

The proposal is said to be binding on Member States and could come into force in February if a qualified majority of countries does not vote against it. The period of validity of the evidence outside of travel – for example for going to a restaurant or shopping – should, according to reports, continue to be left to the individual countries.

A general compulsory vaccination in the EU has apparently not yet emerged.

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