The European Commission chief and the EU's new French leadership have stressed the need for European involvement as Russia and the West continue to square off diplomatically over the possible threat of escalated conflict in Ukraine.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on January 7 that "one thing is clear: no solution without Europe. Whatever the solution, Europe has to be involved."
The United States and its EU partners have stepped up warnings of major consequences if Russia invades Ukraine as Moscow masses troops near the border and presses demands for security guarantees against NATO expanding eastward.
Von der Leyen said the European Union was "very present" in Ukraine, including through giving billions in financial assistance to Kyiv and the bloc's reliance on Russian natural gas shipments via Ukraine.
Speaking alongside von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed direct U.S.-Russian talks slated for next week but stressed that "European security architecture" was "up to us to build."
France officially took up the six-month, rotating European Union presidency at the start of January.
Western leaders are said to be working on what they have pledged are tough financial and other punitive measures to be implemented if Russia escalates militarily against Ukraine.
Macron said, "it's a good thing that there are discussions between the United States and Russia," and added that "coordination between the Europeans and Americans is exemplary on the matter."
But he called for the European Union to hold its own talks with Moscow.
"Dialogue does not mean making concessions," he added.
NATO foreign ministers are scheduled to meet virtually on January 7 to coordinate members' approaches to Russia.
U.S. and Russian officials are to meet in Geneva on January 10. This will be followed by NATO-Russian and EU gatherings with discussion of the Ukraine crisis high on the agenda.