Europe

European Commission president: Russia-Ukraine situation threatens ‘international order’

AP Photo/Michael Probst.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a speech Saturday said the “world has been watching in disbelief” as Russia has amassed troops at the Ukrainian border, adding that Russia’s attempts to intimidate Ukraine threaten the “entire international order.”

In an impassioned 20-minute speech at the Munich Security Conference, she said, “The world has been watching in disbelief as we face the largest buildup of troops on European soil since the darkest days of the Cold War.”

The European Union official added that a potential Russian incursion in the coming days “could reshape the entire international order.”

“The Kremlin’s policies mean in practice, to instill fear,” she said. Von der Leyen added that Russia is denying “a free country’s right to independence and self determination.”

Ukrainians who have grown up in a free country are now “faced again with the prospect of conscription to fight a war that they don’t want but that Moscow might choose to impose on them,” she said. 

The European Commission president also struck an ominous tone, stating that recent communication from Russian and Chinese leaders shows they “seek a new era” to replace the existing international rules.

“They prefer the rule of the strongest to the rule of law, intimidation instead of self determination,” she added.

Von der Leyen also detailed the sanctions Russia could expect following an invasion and added that the Kremlin’s dangerous thinking “may cost Russia a prosperous future.”

Her speech comes as Vice President Harris and other world leaders attend the global security conference in Munich. The Biden administration and its European allies are scrambling to prevent a Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the window to ameliorate tensions with diplomacy appears to be closing. 

In recent weeks, Russia has incrementally amassed close to 200,000 troops at the Ukrainian border.

President Biden said Friday that Russia was looking for a pretext to invade Ukraine and cited the shelling of a Ukrainian kindergarten by Russian-backed separatists and “fabricated claims” of impending aggression from the country against Russia. 

Tags Europe Joe Biden Munich Security Conference Russia Ukraine Ursula von der Leyen

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