Three EU leaders on Wednesday said President Vladimir Putin’s latest steps in Russia’s war against Ukraine showed his panic and the European Union would continue supporting Kyiv.
They backed a plan to annex swathes of the country and issued a nuclear threat to the West.
The Belgian, Dutch prime ministers and the chairman of all the EU’s 27 national leaders spoke after Putin mobilized more troops for Ukraine.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, “It is all a sign of panic. His rhetoric on nuclear weapons is something we have heard many times before.
“It leaves us cold, it is all part of the rhetoric we know. I will advise to remain calm.”
His Belgian peer, Alexander de Croo, also urged a calm response between not provoking Russia, and supporting Ukraine.
“We must not add fuel to the fire,” he said, adding ” We must be clear in our position and continue to support Ukraine.”
The EU leaders’ chairman, European Council President Charles Michel, said the bloc would not be scared away from supporting Ukraine.
“In this war, there is only one aggressor, Russia, and one aggressed country, Ukraine. EU’s support to Ukraine will remain steadfast,” he said.
While there have been no immediate comments from the leaders of Germany or France, the EU’s executive European Commission said Putin’s “reckless” nuclear gamble had to stop.
A foreign policy spokesman for the European Commission, Peter Stano, said “Putin is doing a nuclear gamble. He’s using the nuclear element as part of his arsenal of terror, it’s unacceptable.’’
Stano said there would be “consequences from our part” but declined to announce any new sanctions against Russia.
He said “sham, illegal referenda” that Moscow backed in Ukrainian regions it occupies would not be recognized.