EU rejects Russia’s attempts to ‘build spheres of influence’ in Europe

EU mulls further sanctions in response to situation in Ukraine, offers technical help to Ukraine after cyberattacks

2022-01-14 19:55:49

BRUSSELS 

The EU rejects Russia's attempts to “build spheres of influence” in Europe, the EU foreign policy chief said on Friday.

“We remain open to dialogue with Russia, but never at the expense of our freedom, sovereignty, independence, and the respect of fundamental values,” Josep Borrell told reporters at a joint news conference with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian following the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brest, France.

Borrell explained that “the European security architecture was at the heart of the discussion” of the two-day meeting of EU foreign ministers hosted by the French presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The ministers called on Russia to de-escalate and reiterated the bloc's solidarity with Ukraine.

Borrell also condemned the cyberattacks targeting the servers of the Ukrainian government, and offered the bloc's support, including a technical mission to Ukraine, if the government requests.

The ministers also agreed to continue with the preparatory work on further sanctions against Russia in response to the situation in Ukraine, he added.

Situation in Mali, Iran nuclear talks

Besides the European security issues, the ministers also assessed the situation in Mali and the progress on Iran nuclear talks.

The EU foreign ministers agreed to suspend EU aid for the country and to prepare sanctions against those who obstruct the political transition in Mali.

Le Drian stressed that the Russian mercenary company Wagner Group's intervention in Mali was also condemned during the discussions.

Borrell praised the “important work” of international partners to bring back the US and Iran to the negotiating table after representatives from Iran, China, Russia, France, the UK, and Germany held several meetings under EU chairmanship last month in Vienna.

He expressed hope that they would be “able to inform the public about the final decision within weeks.”