Germany on Friday called on Russia to take “serious steps” toward de-escalation, withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border and engage in diplomacy for a peaceful solution.
“(Russia’s) declared willingness to engage in talks must be backed up with real offers of dialogue, declared troop withdrawals must be backed up by verifiably pulling troops back,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement.
She made the remarks in Berlin prior to her departure for the Munich Security Conference, which will bring together more than 35 heads of government, and around 100 foreign and defense ministers on Feb. 18-20.
Baerbock said Russia’s massive military buildup around Ukraine has created an “extremely dangerous situation” and increased the risk of a military conflict.
“With an unprecedented buildup of troops along Ukraine’s border, and by making cold-war-era demands, Russia is calling into question the fundamental principles of the European peace order,” she said.
Expressing regret over Moscow’s decision not to send a representative to the Munich Security Conference this year, Baerbock said Russia was indeed missing an important opportunity for dialogue.
Baerbock said she will hold various meetings with her counterparts on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference to discuss the latest developments in the region.
“We will use the meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers that I have called, as well as the talks of the Quad and the discussions among the countries of the Normandy format that are present, to send a signal of unity – namely that we are prepared to engage in a serious dialogue on security for all,” she said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will be in Munich for the high-profile annual gathering.
Blinken had told UN Security Council on Thursday that the Kremlin has amassed more than 150,000 troops around Ukraine’s borders, in Russia, Belarus, occupied Crimea.
“Russia says it’s drawing down those forces. We do not see that happening on the ground,” he said.
“Our information indicates clearly that these forces – including ground troops, aircraft, ships – are preparing to launch an attack against Ukraine in the coming days,” he warned.
Moscow has repeatedly denied any plan to invade Ukraine and accused Western countries of undermining Russia's security through NATO's expansion toward its borders.
It also issued a list of security demands to the West, including a rollback of troop deployments from some ex-Soviet states and guarantees that Ukraine and Georgia would not join NATO.