Source: Robert Besser

PARIS, France: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has warned Russia that it would pay a “high political and economic price” if it invades neighboring Ukraine.

Emphasizing the need to coordinate a common European position when dealing with hostile neighbors, such as Russia, Baerbock said, “The territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine aren’t up for negotiation for us.” Additionally, she said the highest priority must be to avoid a military escalation.

She made her statement in Paris during her first foreign trip, one day after taking office, during a joint news conference with French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affair Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Russia insists it has no plans to invade Ukraine, unless it claims to have been “provoked.”

In an earlier phone conversation with Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked the now-retired German chancellor for “years of fruitful cooperation,” according to the Kremlin.

Merkel, in turn, wished Putin success in “establishing a dialogue” with new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

In France, Baerbock said a possible diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in China was another “big topic.” She added that Germany wants to decide how to proceed “in unison with our European friends.”

However, the U.S., British and Australian governments have previously said their diplomats would not attend the Beijing Games, to protest Chinese human rights abuses.

During the wide-ranging news conference with her French counterpart, Baerbock also said that the sexual assault allegations made by Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai against a former Communist Party official should be taken seriously.

“If a woman makes such allegations, then they should be heard, including internationally,” said Baerbock, who is Germany’s first female foreign minister.