EU cannot offer ‘olive branch’ to Russia over Ukraine: European Council head

Russian attempt to ‘weaken Western, European support for Ukraine is miscalculation,’ says Charles Michel.

EU cannot offer ‘olive branch’ to Russia over Ukraine: European Council head

The European Union cannot offer an “olive branch” while Russia continues to amass troops along the Ukrainian border, the president of the European Council said on Sunday.

“We cannot forever offer an olive branch while Russia conducts missile tests and continues to amass troops,” Charles Michel said in a speech at the Munich Security Conference.

He said that Moscow's actions reflect a “paradox” since they showed signs of seeking a dialogue with Western allies while continuing with a military buildup.

Michel, who presides over the meeting of EU heads of states and governments, stressed that “our unity has been cemented, both within the EU and across the Atlantic” in face of the Russian threat.

Michel said the Russian attempt to “weaken Western and European support for Ukraine is a miscalculation.”

He said the EU approved a €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) macro-financial assistance package for Kyiv. He also recently proposed an international donor conference to support Ukraine.

Tensions have risen dramatically in eastern Ukraine this week, with reports of a growing number of cease-fire violations, multiple shelling incidents, and evacuation of civilians from the pro-Russian separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Western countries have accused Russia of amassing more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine, prompting fears that it could be planning a military offensive against its ex-Soviet neighbor.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any plan to invade Ukraine and instead accused Western countries of undermining Russia’s security through NATO’s expansion toward its borders.