The EPP Group calls on Russia to stop threatening Ukraine, to release political prisoners, and refrain from attacks on EU soil.

“The EU has to draw conclusions from the Russian military build-up around Ukraine and help Ukraine to enhance its self-defence”, said MEPs Sandra Kalniete and Michael Gahler today, ahead of the plenary debate and vote condemning the Kremlin’s recent aggressive actions externally and at home.                                                                                     “Although Russia declared the withdrawal of its troops from the Ukrainian border, we witnessed the biggest concentration of Russian armed forces in the region since 2014. It only shows how fragile the security situation in Europe is. We have a collective duty to make our support to Ukraine irreversible and to encourage Member States to help modernise and empower the Ukrainian armed forces in their legitimate self-defence. Let’s grant Ukraine a NATO Membership Action Plan”, continued Kalniete, Vice-Chairwoman of the EPP Group responsible for Foreign Affairs.                                                                                    “Russia amassed more than 100,000 troops around Ukraine, a size indicating clearly offensive intentions, threatened to close the Kerch Strait and is deploying around 3000 officers and military instructors in the two separatist territories of Donetsk and Luhansk. We can’t accept such aggression against a neighbouring country which has chosen the European path”, stressed Michael Gahler MEP, EPP Group Spokesman on Foreign Affairs.              Both MEPs also condemn the Russian Secret Service attack against an ammunition plant in the Czech Republic calling it a violation of Czech sovereignty and an unacceptable act of hostility. “Our solidarity with the Czech Republic goes without saying. The EU Member States should now closely coordinate, notably when deciding on expulsions of Russian embassy staff from their countries”, said Kalniete.                                                            “Mr Putin will not fool us. His external sabre-rattling cannot cover his internal weakness. The height of his weakness is reflected in the way in which the regime is treating Alexei Navalny”, she continued.                                                                                           “We call for the immediate, unconditional release of Alexei Navalny, a stop to the arrests of peaceful protesters, and a stop to attacks against the Opposition, particularly the criminalisation of Alexei Navalny’s foundation. All persons involved in his prosecution, sentencing and ill-treatment should be held accountable and listed in the new European Human Rights sanctions regime. Against the backdrop of Russia’s increasingly aggressive behaviour, we have called for a review of EU’s Russia policy and the launch of a new strategy which, instead of the autocrats, will help democratic Russia. It is time to deliver”, concluded Gahler.