German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, ahead of her visits to Kiev and Moscow, stressed the West’s readiness to negotiate with Russia on detente in the conflict over Ukraine. “We are ready for a serious dialogue on bilateral agreements and steps that will bring more security to everyone in Europe, including Russia,” she said before flying to Kiev on Monday, January 17, in Berlin.
At the same time, Burbock stressed that the West “cannot and will not make concessions on fundamental principles, such as territorial integrity, freedom to choose alliances and blocs, and the rejection of violence as a political tool.” “We are determined to respond if Russia chooses an escalation path instead,” she warned.
According to Burbock, “the premise of diplomacy is to understand the point of view of the other side, even if the latter holds a completely opposite opinion.” The minister said that she would carefully listen to her interlocutors in Kiev and Moscow, but at the same time convey the West’s position “with all clarity” to them. The head of the German Foreign Ministry expressed her intention to clarify the readiness of the parties for a diplomatic settlement of the conflict and to contribute to the revival of the Normandy format, in which Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France are discussing the Ukrainian crisis.
Conflict over Ukraine
In the capital of Ukraine, Kiev, Burbock will hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba. She will also meet with representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). On the evening of September 17, she will fly from Kiev to Moscow for talks with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
Russia has deployed about 100,000 troops to the border with Ukraine. The West fears an invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine, but Moscow denies that it has such plans. The Kremlin emphasizes that “security guarantees” are important to it and in this regard insists on NATO’s refusal to further expand to the east and, in particular, to admit Ukraine into its structure.
NATO categorically rejects this demand and, for its part, demands the withdrawal of Russian troops from the border with Ukraine. Annalena Burbock noted that at the talks in Moscow it is important for her to outline positions. “As the new federal government, we are interested in a serious and stable relationship with Russia,” she said.