Luxembourg Foreign Minister Warns: Either Crimea or World War III
July 12, 2014 • 11:24AM

In an interview in the Austrian daily Die Presse, Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn warned that the European Union and the U.S. should stop demanding that Russia return Crimea to Ukraine or risk world War III.

Asselborn was in Austria to meet with President Heinz Fisher, saying that he, Fisher, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier consider themselves a "trio," especially in trying to resolve the Ukrainian crisis. He admitted he had advised Fisher to receive Russian President Vladimir Putin recently in order to "convey to him in private the right messages" to help solve the crisis. Asselborn declared, "One cannot reduce foreign policy to sanctions. We should seek to ensure that Russia is again among those countries that respect international law."

When asked whether Europe had to accept that Russia would not return Crimea, he replied, "If you want to risk a Third World War, this is the reality. Crimea is de facto no longer part of Ukraine. De jure, we will not accept this course. It is an illusion to believe that we can now find a solution.... This may be different in ten years. I have a different responsibility as a politician than yours. When I wake up tomorrow, Russia is still on the map. I must work with Russia, to try to get out of the conflict."

On Eastern Ukraine, he said Ukrainian President Poroshenko is seeking "a military solution," but that "He should listen to Steinmeier's appeal, talk to Russia and the OSCE."

As for sanctions, he said that there was "no cause for economic sanctions. That would only be the case if Russian troops invade Ukraine." He pointed out that "Luxembourg on paper is the third-largest foreign investor in Russia" and "an important financial center for Russians."

Speaking about the role of Russia and China in current politics, Asselborn said, "Europe and the U.S. cannot shape the world according to their liking. The global order is impossible without Russia and China. The West should pause to reconsider its policy." He point to the negative example of Tony Blair who "is still convinced that the war in Iraq was the right option though tens of thousands of people were killed there for no reason. The country is still in chaos today."