E.U. Debates How to Coordinate With U.S., U.K. If Russia Invades Western-Leaning Ukraine

On Monday, European Union foreign ministers debate ways to coordinate with the United States and United Kingdom if Russia invades Western-leaning Ukraine.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who chaired the meeting, said no decisions have been made regarding sanctions against Russia, but ministers discussed possible measures to take if an invasion happened.

"The European Union stands united in support of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Borrell said. "Any aggression against Ukraine will come with political consequences and with a high economic cost for Russia."

According to U.S. intelligence officials, Russia moved 70,000 troops close to Ukraine's border and is readying for a potential invasion early next year. However, Moscow rebuffed concerns for invasion into Ukraine and denied it has plans to do so.

"We are convinced that Russia is actually preparing for the all-out war against Ukraine," said Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.

If the invasion happened, it would be "an unprecedented attack on a country that shows a Western direction. That means that the answer has to be unprecedented from the Western countries as well," Landsbergis said.

Military experts said that if Russia does invade, while it may face resistance, Ukraine lacks the necessities to fully counter Russia's military, according to the Associated Press.

"In case of Russian aggression. I will have no choice—every Ukrainian is ready to die with arms in hands," said Colonel Viacheslav Vlasenko, 53, of Ukraine. "Ukraine will never become a part of Russia. If we have to prove it to the Kremlin that Ukraine has the right for freedom and independence, we are ready for it."

Josep Borrell, Russia, Ukraine, Invasion, Preparation
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks with the media as he arrives for a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the European Council building in Brussels on December 13, 2021. European Union foreign ministers met Monday to discuss how to thwart the threat of a possible new Russian invasion of Ukraine and what measures to take should Moscow decide to send its troops across the border. Virginia Mayo/AP Photo

But the EU's big powers, France and Germany, and other members of the 27-country bloc further from Russia's borders do not share the same assessment as the U.S., Poland and the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They acknowledge Russia's troop movements but do not consider an attack imminent.

In 2015, France and Germany brokered a peace agreement that helped end large-scale hostilities in Ukraine's east, where Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russia-backed separatists since 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Efforts to reach a political settlement to the separatist conflict, which has killed more than 14,000 people in seven years, have failed. Sporadic skirmishes continue along the tense line of contact. Russia so far refuses to meet France and Germany for more peace talks on the conflict.

Monday's meeting was a prelude to a busy week of diplomacy in Brussels focused on Ukraine. EU leaders meet Wednesday with their counterparts from Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova. An EU summit on Thursday will also focus on what actions might be necessary.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Discussion, Russia, Ukraine, Invasion, Preparation
Military experts say that while Russia would face resistance from Ukraine, the country lacks the necessities to fully counter Russia’s military. In this photo, a Ukrainian soldier walks along a trench on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists, not far from town of Avdiivka, Donetsk region, on December 10, 2021. Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images