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EU Foreign Policy Chief Set To Begin Visit To Ukraine.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will begin a visit to Ukraine on January 4 in a show of support for Kyiv in the face of a Russian military buildup near its border.
Borrell’s three-day visit will include a stop at the contact line in eastern Ukraine where Russia-backed separatists have battled Ukrainian government forces. The European Commission announced the trip on January 3, saying that Borrell will meet with officials in Kyiv after visiting eastern Ukraine.
The West is concerned that the Russian buildup of around 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders could be preparations for a potential invasion. U.S. and Russian officials are set to hold talks in Geneva on January 9-10 on the crisis after Moscow demanded sweeping security guarantees from the United States and NATO. Those bilateral talks will be followed by meetings between Russia and NATO and separate discussions under the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed Russia’s military buildup in a conversation on January 3 with nine eastern flank NATO, the State Department said. Blinken and the foreign ministers of the Bucharest Nine (B9) discussed Russia’s “destabilizing military buildup along Ukraine’s border; the need for a united, ready, and resolute NATO stance for the collective defense of Allies; and transatlantic cooperation on issues of shared concern,” a State Department statement said.
“The Secretary stressed the U.S. commitment to continued close consultation and coordination with all of our Transatlantic Allies and partners as we work toward de-escalation through deterrence, defense, and dialogue,” the statement said. The B9 -- Romania, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania -- are countries on the eastern edge of NATO. Russia has demanded guarantees Ukraine and other former Soviet countries will not join NATO and wants a rollback of the alliance’s military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe. The West has rejected Moscow’s ultimatums regarding the NATO alliance and threatened Moscow with severe sanctions and other measures if it launches a fresh incursion of Ukraine.

With reporting by AFP, dpa, and Interfax

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