‘Say it loud!’ EU tears itself apart as feuding states bicker over botched Russia response

Russia using gas as an economic tool against Europe says Truss

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Russia has massed some 120,000 troops near its neighbour and demanded the western defence alliance pull back troops and weapons from eastern Europe and bar Ukraine, a former Soviet state, from ever joining the Western defence alliance.

EU member states are still divided on how to respond to the threats posed by Moscow.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told Spanish daily El mundo: “All EU member countries agree that Ukraine must maintain its sovereignty.

“The disagreements concern the scope of sanctions against Russia or provision of military support to Ukraine.

“Those are the positions that must be agreed at the level of the EU or NATO.

“We need a strong voice but not many divergent voices.”

In a blunt attack on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, he added: “I do not expect Germany to be involved in this conflict if the new government decides so, but if they refuse to help Ukraine, I will ask them to say it out loud.

“Evasive statements such as ‘we will not send weapons to Ukraine because it is a conflict zone’ are not a serious policy in the current circumstances.”

On Sunday, the head of NATO said Europe needs to diversify its energy supplies, as Britain warned it was “highly likely” that Russia, a major natural gas supplier, was looking to invade Ukraine.

US officials said on Saturday Russia’s military buildup had been expanded as the government scrambled to prepare.

Moscow denies any plan to invade but said on Sunday it would ask NATO to clarify whether it intends to implement key security commitments after earlier saying the alliance’s response to its demands did not go far enough.

“If they do not intend to do so, then they should explain why,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on state television. “This will be a key question in determining our future proposals.”

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The United States has said it is waiting to hear back from Russia. It says NATO will not withdraw from eastern Europe or bar Ukraine but it is prepared to discuss topics such as arms control and confidence-building measures.

Washington has spent weeks trying to build agreement with European partners on a strong sanctions package if Russia attacks Ukraine. But the issue is divisive, with Germany urging “prudence”.

The European Union depends on Russia for around a third of its gas supplies and any interruption would exacerbate an existing energy crisis caused by a shortage.

“We are concerned about the energy situation in Europe because it demonstrates the vulnerability of being too dependent on one supplier of natural gas and that’s the reason why NATO allies agree that we need to work and focus on diversification of supplies,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenburg said.

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Britain said on Sunday it would expand the scope of its own possible sanctions in legislation this week to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We think it’s highly likely that he is looking to invade Ukraine. That is why we’re doing all we can through deterrence and diplomacy, to urge him to desist,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told BBC television.

Truss, who is due to visit both Ukraine and Russia in the next two weeks, told Sky News the legislation would enable Britain to hit a much wider variety of targets “so there can be nobody who thinks that they will be immune to those sanctions”.

Asked if the new powers could include the ability to seize property in London, Truss said: “Nothing is off the table.”

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