Informal Foreign Affairs Council: Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell after the extraordinary meeting in New York

21.09.2022
New York
EEAS Press Team

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Today, I have convened the European Union’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs for an emergency ad-hoc meeting, here in New York, after learning that President Putin has announced another major escalation in the war he has launched against Ukraine. 

Minister Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, joined us for the first part of the meeting to exchange and to inform about the latest developments. This meeting was necessary to take full measure [of what is at stake], to understand well the consequences. And that is why, we invited the Ukrainian Minister. 

It is clear that Putin is trying to destroy Ukraine. He is trying to destroy the whole country by different means since he is failing militarily. 

He is announcing a partial mobilisation in Russia to support the organisation of illegal “referenda” - they call it “referenda” - in the Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia and by threatening again and again – and this time, very clearly in a quite unveiled manner – the use of weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons. 

We found that it is quite cynical and shocking to hear such threats during the week in which here, at the United Nations, the world community works together in order to build peace and progress. And, specifically on the World Peace Day – this is the day chosen by Putin to announce this decision. 

The Council has agreed on a Declaration. Allow me to highlight the most important elements of this Declaration. 

First, the European Union reiterates its strongest condemnation of the plans to organise illegal “referenda”, with the aim of annexation by Russia of parts of Donetsk, Kherson and Luhansk, and the Zaporizhzhia regions. These are the regions of Ukraine currently occupied by the Russian Army. 

We consider that these illegal “referenda” are another blatant violation of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and a new serious violation of the United Nations Charter. 

We believe that the Russians’ actions continue to threaten peace and security in Europe and worldwide and have serious global consequences in the form of increased food and energy prices.  

Second, we reiterate our call – the European Union’s call - on Russia to respect the principles of the United Nations Charter and to reverse these illegal plans. 

Additional restrictive measures against Russia will be brought forward immediately, as soon as possible, in coordination with our partners. And I want to stress, in particular, one important element. In line with the United Nations Charter and international law, Ukraine is exercising its legitimate right to defend itself against the Russian aggression, to regain full control of its territory and has the right to liberate occupied territories within its internationally recognised borders. And for that, we will continue supporting Ukrainian efforts with the provision of military equipment, as long as it takes. 

In addition to the immense suffering brought by the Russian aggression upon the Ukrainian people, Russia has chosen to further extend the cost of war - also for their own Russian population – with this partial mobilisation which has the aim of putting under their flag 300,000 soldiers. And this reference to nuclear weapons represents an irresponsible and cynical attempt to undermine our steadfast support to Ukraine. 

These threats jeopardise in an unprecedented scale international peace and security. But they will not shake our determination. They will not shake our resolve, our unity to stand by Ukraine, and our comprehensive support to Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty, as long as it takes. 

This is what the [Foreign Affairs] Ministers have agreed at this ad-hoc extraordinary meeting, convened quickly, immediately after the statement delivered by Putin in order to give the appropriate answer. 

Thank you. 

Q&A 

Q. Could you please tell us what kind of additional measures you are contemplating to implement? 

This is an extraordinary informal [Foreign Affairs] Council [meeting], we cannot take concrete measures. We can only provide political guidance. We can only announce political measures that will have to be followed up on by a formal Council meeting of the Permanent Representatives in order to take concrete measures. But today, it is clear – as I said – that we will continue and increase our military support, continue providing arms to Ukraine. And we will study – we will adopt – new restrictive measures, both personal and sectorial. 

Q. Could you please elaborate, give us some hint on if there is any appetite for a price cap, or a total ban on gas, natural gas? And you mentioned on Monday that there might be a military Assistance Mission that might be agreed in October. Is that potentially going to be expanded, or pushed forward? 

Yes, the technical work in order to adopt the military training mission continues. Today, we could not decide what is still a work in progress, and it has to be adopted formally at the next Foreign Affairs Council. I understand that you would like to know which are the persons, which are the sectors, what are the amounts – but this is not something that could have been done today. Today, it is the political decision: we will continue supporting Ukraine militarily. We will continue providing arms. We will continue using the money of the European Peace Facility and the money of the European budget, of the Member States, to continue supporting the military capacity in order for the Ukrainians to defend their land, their territory, their sovereignty. And we will study a new package of sanctions that will affect new areas of the Russian economy, especially – if I can be a little more concrete – the technological ones. And there will be a new list of [sanctioned] persons. Today, we could not decide which person, which sector and which amount. To understand the way we are working. It is clear that, with some hours after Putin’s speech, it was a matter of sending a powerful political message – this was the purpose of the Council [meeting]. 

Q. Considering that there was backlash over the [European] Commission’s recent sanctions' guidance, how worried are you about attempts by certain Member States to water down the next sanctions package? And depending on the current escalation, do you see that possibility? 

I am sure that we will be able to find a unanimous agreement for the new sanctions package. 

Q. Do you think that the EU should adopt sanctions against Iran in the wake of the crackdown against protests at the moment? 

I cannot talk about everything. Today, the purpose of the [informal] Foreign Affairs Council was very clear, and Iran was not in the agenda. 

Q. You are sure that there will be a unanimous support for the additional measures. Did you find unanimous support in tonight’s Council? Were all the countries in favour of those additional measures? 

Which additional measures? 

Q. The additional measures you are contemplating in the next few days. 

This resolution has been approved by unanimity - it is not my ideas about it. It is a text that has been approved unanimously by the 27 members [of the EU]. This is political guidance: let’s continue supporting Ukraine militarily, providing arms and military capabilities. Let's continue putting sanctions that affect the most relevant sectors of the Russian economy and continue targeting people responsible for the war of aggression against Ukraine. This is something that everybody has shared, as you have seen how quickly it has been done. 

Q. Anything about the idea of the declaration? 

El Consejo de Ministros de Asuntos Exteriores, que se ha reunido de urgencia, pocas horas después de que el Presidente de Rusia Putin haya anunciado una movilización de 300 000 soldados más para continuar la guerra en Ucrania, y que haya amenazado veladamente pero claramente sobre el uso de armas nucleares, ha decidido mantener la ayuda militar a Ucrania y de aumentar las sanciones económicas, sectoriales y personales a Rusia. Es una decisión tomada muy rápidamente - en esta reunión de urgencia del Consejo de Ministros de Asuntos Exteriores - que demuestra la determinación de la Unión Europea de continuar ayudando a Ucrania a hacer frente a la agresión rusa. 

Q. ¿Qué haría cambiar un poco la línea que está siguiendo acerca de más apoyo militar, más sanciones? Ahora mismo, no sé si puede concretar, decía que es pronto para concretarlas, pero ¿qué haría cambiar? ¿Qué es lo haría dar un giro a ese mensaje político? ¿Qué tendría que pasar? Porque la escalada de la amenaza ya ha ocurrido. 

Perdone, no puedo contestar preguntas basadas en futuribles indeterminados. Gracias. 

 

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-230450 

Peter Stano
Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
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Paloma Hall Caballero
Press Officer for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
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