Europeans must be ready to ‘pay’ to support Ukraine – top EU diplomat – Reuters

Arming Ukraine and keeping Europe united has a cost, which Brussels must explain to citizens, says Josep Borrell

Helping Ukraine in its fight against Russia has a price for Europe, which citizens should be prepared to pay, the EU’s foreign policy chief said. A Russian victory would be the loss of Europe, believes Josep Borrell.

“We have to explain to our fellow citizens that this is not someone else’s war,” said the diplomat in an interview published Thursday by the newspaper El Pais. “The public must be prepared to pay the price for supporting Ukraine and preserving EU unity.

“We are at war. These things aren’t free.” he added, acknowledging that the cost should be spread “fairly”.

Borrell was referring to soaring inflation and potential power shortages facing European countries after moving to punish Russia for attacking Ukraine by refusing to buy its power. Brussels wants member states to cut consumption to be better prepared for peak demand this winter, but some countries have resisted the proposal.

Spain, Borrell’s home country, was among the dissenting voices. Energy Minister Teresa Ribera said last month that “to impose unjust sacrifices” was not the best way to deal with the crisis. She argued that, unlike people in some other countries, “The Spaniards have not lived beyond our means from an energy point of view.”

Europeans “cannot show a lack of solidarity” with such feuds, Borrell said in the interview. He berated Madrid for not appreciating “what this war represents for the countries that are closest to it”, like Poland. Spain could benefit in the long term from the EU’s decoupling from Russia by becoming a major hub for Europe’s liquefied natural gas supply, he added.

Borrell warned that Europe must be prepared for the conflict in Ukraine to continue for a long time. Commenting on European objectives in the conflict, he said that “If Russia wins this war and occupies part of Ukrainian territory, then we Europeans will have lost and face a much greater threat.”

The Ukrainian government has said it will only talk to Russia after pushing its army to where it was before 2014, which would include capturing Crimea. Borrell said Western nations have a “moral imperative” to support Kyiv. He said that the United States and the EU were in “absolute cooperation” on the issue, and suggested that would not have been the case if the conflict had started with Donald Trump in power in Washington.

Russia sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, citing kyiv’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, intended to give the Donetsk and Luhansk regions special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that kyiv’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to save time and “to create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbas republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. kyiv insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked.

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