Johnson, Scholz talk on Ukraine as Blinken and FMs meet in Berlin
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz spoke by phone on the evening of Jan. 20, the U.K. government announced the same day. The two agreed on the importance of their unity as NATO members and their concern over the buildup of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border.
The call came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Berlin for meetings regarding the security situation in eastern Europe and especially Ukraine. Baerbock, echoing Scholz statements during his meeting with NATO General Secretary Jan Stoltenberg on Jan. 18, emphasized the need for a diplomatic solution and that a Russian military incursion would have grave consequences, dw.com reported on Jan. 20.
Blinken and Baerbock later met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and U.K. Vice Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who were in Berlin as well. Blinken will be meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Jan. 21 in Geneva.
The meetings come as the U.S. attempts to walk back statements by U.S. President Joe Biden ton Jan. 19 that a) he thinks that Putin has painted himself into a corner and will probably have to attack Ukraine, b) that a “limited” incursion would raise a lesser set of sanctions and c) that European allies are not united in their stance in the event of such an incursion. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted a reminder that “there are no limited incursions and no small nations.”
James Hydzik: The diplomatic effort at unity on Jan. 20 points to a well-known weakness among Ukraine’s allies - that achieving and maintaining such unity is very difficult in the face of unrealized threats. This weakness has been exposed, but it also reinforces the display of unity regarding large-scale military action.