EU stands united with Czech Republic on expulsion of Russian diplomats

Foreign affairs ministers urge Russia to de-escalate and to defuse tensions at the Ukrainian border

Photo: EU Josep Borrell.

Following the EU foreign affairs ministers informal video conference, EU High Representative Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell stated that EU stands in unity and solidarity with the Czech Republic on the expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats over the 2014 explosion on an ammunition depot.

Answering to the questions did the Czech Republic ask for a coordinated expulsion of Russian diplomats from other EU Member States similar to what happened after Salisbury and is the EU preparing new sanctions on Russia, the HR replied: “The answer for the time being is “no” for the both questions”.

HR Borrell said the situation on Ukrainian border is very much worrisome, noting that there are more than 100,000 Russian troops amassing at the Ukrainian borders and in Crimea. The risk of further escalation is evident and we urge Russia to deescalate and defuse tensions, the EU HR stressed.

“The message of all Ministers has been very much clear: a complete reiteration of strong support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Today, we are passing a united message to the Russian authorities: they are responsible for Mr Navalny’s safety and health and we will hold them to account for it, the EU HR outlined and added that Mr Navalny had been moved to a regional prison hospital, “but it remains that the Russian authorities must grant him immediate access to the medical professionals that he trusts”.

On Ethiopia, the other big issue on the agenda, the EU HR stressed that “we have seen recently some announcements by the Government of Ethiopia who went into the Tigray region by “blood and sword”, creating a very dire humanitarian situation”.

He also said that the progress remains very limited in Tigray - fighting is ongoing, humanitarian access is still being prevented, Eritrean troops are not withdrawing and human rights violations continue.

The Council received a report from the Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister, Pekka Haavisto, who travelled to the region for the second time as my representative to reiterate the European Union’s requests and assess the situation.

He was able to go to Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, and learn from the ground how urgent the need for a monitored ceasefire is to improve security conditions in Tigray in order to make the humanitarian work possible, Borrell explained adding that the “so many times announced withdrawal of Eritrean troops should become a reality immediately”.

“On the following days, we will continue following closely the situation in order to confirm our will to send an electoral observation mission in the country. Taking into account that in Tigray, for sure, is not going to be an election. It will be impossible to imagine such a thing,” the HR stated.

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