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European leaders say they seek peace, and warn Russia of retaliation for any aggression against Ukraine.

todayFebruary 10, 2022

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After days of intense diplomacy over the Ukraine crisis, the leaders of France, Germany and Poland said this week that their overriding goal was the preservation of peace in Europe, but warned Russia of dire consequences if it launched further incursions into Ukraine.

“We share one goal,” Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, said on Tuesday in Berlin. “Preserving peace in Europe with diplomacy and clear messages and the common readiness to act jointly.”

But, he made clear, peace could not come at any price. Speaking a day after meeting President Biden in Washington, Mr. Scholz continued: “A further violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine is unacceptable and would lead to far-reaching consequences for Russia, politically, economically and surely strategically, too.”

It was one of the strongest statements yet on the crisis from Mr. Scholz, who took office only two months ago. Germany has faced American criticism for what has been perceived as a weak response to the huge Russian troop buildup at the Ukrainian border, and to Russia’s demands that NATO draw down forces in Eastern Europe.

Mr. Scholz was flanked by Emmanuel Macron, the French president, and President Andrzej Duda of Poland, who said Europe “has not seen these kinds of troop movements since World War II.”

Poland’s sensitivities to Russian aggression are particularly acute after it spent the postwar decades trapped in the Soviet imperium, and its sentiments are widely shared in Central and Eastern Europe.

Mr. Putin’s massing of troops has caused the United States to pivot to Europe, rekindled the NATO alliance and threatened the painstakingly built security of the continent.

“We want to continue the dialogue with Russia to avoid the risk of escalation and allow for de-escalation,” said Mr. Macron, who had met with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in Kyiv earlier on Tuesday and with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Moscow on Monday.

After his discussions with Mr. Putin, Mr. Macron said that he had secured from Russia a commitment to “no degradation or escalation” in Ukraine, opening new avenues of negotiation on the “collective security of the European space.”

But the Kremlin gave a more guarded account. Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, rejected reports that the two presidents had reached any agreement, and suggested that it was the United States, not France, that had standing to negotiate such a deal.

Original story from https://www.nytimes.com

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