President von der Leyen on Russia’s military threat against Ukraine: “We stand firm with Ukraine”
This morning, Commission President Ursula von der Leyenparticipated in the European Parliament plenary debate in Strasbourg on EU-Russia relations, European security and Russia’s military threat against Ukraine. As the EU faces the largest build-up of troops on European soil since the Cold War, the President said: “This is happening because of a deliberate policy of the Russian leadership. Ukraine has come such a long way. It has taken important steps to fight corruption, rebuilt its infrastructure, created new jobs for its talented youth. Our Union has accompanied them, putting together the largest support package in our history. Ukraine today is a stronger, freer and more sovereign country than in 2014. It is making choices about its own future. But the Kremlin does not like this, and so it threatens war. We stand firm with Ukraine. This is about every country’s right to determine its own future. Our call on Russia is crystal clear: do not choose war.” While diplomatic efforts continue and the EU hopes that the Kremlin will decide not to unleash further violence in Europe, President von der Leyen made it clear that should the situation escalate, Europe’s response will be strong and united, swift and robust. She also outlined preparedness efforts in case the Russian leadership decides to weaponise the energy issue by partially or completely disrupting gas supplies to the EU. The President recalled that this crisis proves that the EU needs to heavily invest in renewable energy sources and diversify our energy sources, ending our dependency on Russian gas. Addressing MEPs in the Hemicycle, she said: “This is a crisis that has been created by Moscow. We have not chosen confrontation, but we are prepared for it. Another future is possible. A future in which Russia and Europe cooperate on their shared interests. A future where free countries work together in peace.” Read the full speech online in English, Frenchand German. Watch it on EbS.