Brussels. Jan 25 : The European Union (EU) is prepared to defend against any possible Russian cyber-attacks or hybrid threats if it invades Ukraine and is "very well advanced" in its preparation for a response to any aggression, the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said in Brussels.
He told journalists on Monday following a meeting of the EU member states' Foreign Ministers that the bloc was united in its approach.
"The Russian military build-up in and around Ukraine and Russia's attempts to recreate dividing lines on our continent undermine the core foundations and principles on which European security is built and bring back dark memories of the spheres of influence, which do not belong to the 21st century," Borrell added.
He said that the EU has reaffirmed its full and unquestionable support to Ukraine and that any military aggression against Ukraine will have serious consequences and massive costs for the perpetrator, Xinhua news agency reported.
He added that the Foreign Ministers had a long exchange with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the way ahead. Borrell said that collective diplomatic efforts will continue to convince Russia to take the path of dialogue "even though the Russian rhetoric does not aspire a lot of confidence." He urged Russia to continue engaging with its international partners to explain and debunk disinformation, the "dangerous narratives that are being spread." "Should diplomacy fail, we are very advanced in our preparation for a response for any Russian aggression. Certainly, it will be a quick and determined action not only within the EU but also internationally," he added.
Asked about the lack of details about the potential sanctions against Russia, Borrell said that there was "no reason for worry" and added that "the measures will be implemented at an appropriate moment if it comes." Earlier on Monday, European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU Executive wants to provide Ukraine with a new financial aid package to help it overcome the current crisis with Russia.
The first tranche will be 1.2 billion euros ($1.36 billion) in loans and grants. It will require the approval of the EU Council and the European Parliament, according to a Commission statement.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia deteriorated recently, with both sides deploying large numbers of military personnel and equipment in their border areas.
The US, Ukraine, and NATO have accused Russia of having assembled heavy troops near the eastern border of Ukraine, with a possible intention of "invasion." Russia denied the accusation, saying that it has the right to mobilise troops within its borders to defend its territory as NATO's activities constitute a threat to Russia's border security.