Germany and France act as moderators and observers in the Normandy format, while Russia is one of the parties to the conflict.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said this at a press conference following the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels on December 15, when asked about the EU’s format of negotiations with Russia in case of new aggression against Ukraine.

“The format of negotiations is very clear. After Russia had annexed Crimea, the Normandy format was created, in which Germany and France act as moderators and observers, and Ukraine and Russia are parties to the conflict. We are working in this format. I think this a proper format for this conflict,” von der Leyen said.

She confirmed that this summer, the European Commission received a task from the European Council to develop various responses in case of further aggression of Russia against Ukraine and performed its “homework.” Therefore, the European Union is ready to respond to the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation although it hopes that this will not happen.

“One of the topics of the meeting was our shared concern about the Russian military build-up along Ukraine’s eastern border. We are calling on Russia to de-escalate and refrain from any further aggressive acts. We assured Ukraine of our steadfast support and commitment to its sovereignty and to its territorial integrity. And there should indeed be no doubt: the European Union will respond firmly to any further aggression against Ukraine,” Ursula von der Leyen stressed.

The 6th Eastern Partnership Summit took place in Brussels on December 15. EU leaders and five partner countries – Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, and Azerbaijan – looked back on the previous years and identified further prospects.

As a reminder, Russia refuses to recognize itself as a party to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, trying to position itself as an intermediary in the Normandy format of negotiations.