By Agnes Szucs
BRUSSELS (AA) - The European Union’s diplomatic service is currently examining various scenarios for Russia’s actions against Ukraine to prepare the bloc for all possibilities, its top diplomat said Tuesday.
“We are expecting the best but preparing for the worst,” foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told EU lawmakers regarding the bloc’s response to the massive Russian military buildup in and around Ukraine in his speech at the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, France.
Borrell said the concentration of troops is an “attempt to undermine for the Ukrainians territorial integrity which was already jeopardized when Russia took over Crimea.”
He admitted that they were “studying the different scenarios that one could imagine that could happen in the following days or weeks” in order to prepare the EU’s response to any development.
He repeated the bloc’s warning that an attack against Ukraine would end in “high political and economic costs” for Russia but stressed that EU diplomats were working in a “deterrent mode” since the bloc did not want to contribute to escalating the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
In 2014, Moscow began supporting separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained in the past seven years.
For the second time this year, Russia concentrated a significant number of troops in and around Ukraine last month.
Top EU officials have repeatedly expressed support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over the past few months.
The EU has been applying restrictive measures in response to the Ukrainian crisis since 2014.
Currently, 188 people and 48 entities are on the bloc’s blacklist for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Separate economic sanctions on Russia’s finance, energy and defense sectors are also in place because of Moscow’s reluctance to fully implement the Minsk Agreements meant to establish peace in eastern Ukraine.
On Monday, the EU also blacklisted the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group for human rights violations and intervening in conflicts around the world, including the one in Ukraine.