MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares will travel to Kyiv later on Tuesday in a show of solidarity with Ukraine and a bid to help de-escalate tensions with neighbouring Russia that has massed troops on its border.
“Nobody is preparing for war…the reason for my trip to Kyiv today to see my Ukrainian counterpart is to ensure that dialogue and diplomacy are the way to resolve any dispute,” he said.
Albares will meet his counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, who had invited him to visit, on Wednesday, before travelling to Lyon to meet his French counterpart, sources told Reuters.
On Thursday he is due to meet NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“All our efforts are geared towards the peaceful resolution of this dispute, I don’t consider war even as a hypothesis,” Albares said.
In line with the European Union stance, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has previously warned Russia it would face massive economic consequences if it launched any kind of military intervention in Ukraine.
Russia denies planning to attack its neighbour. It is seeking sweeping security guarantees from NATO including a pledge that Ukraine will never be allowed to join the alliance that Moscow sees as a threat.
The Kremlin on Tuesday poured cold water on a tentative French assertion of diplomatic progress after President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Moscow, denying that Vladimir Putin had promised that Russia would stage no further manoeuvres near Ukraine for now.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that despite an absence of a deal, de-escalation was needed and that the meeting had provided the basis for further work on that front.
(Reporting by Belen Carreno, writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Nathan Allen and Alexandra Hudson)