According to a media report, Russia is moving several artillery and landing ships from the Caspian to the Black Sea, where Ukraine is among others. There they should take part in exercises, the Interfax news agency reported on Thursday. The government in Kiev accuses Russia of increasing troops on the border with Ukraine for weeks. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is visiting the front line in the east of the country.
Separatists are said to have intensified attacks on the Ukrainian army on the demarcation line. Russia supports these militias militarily. Western nations and NATO have expressed concern about the development. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has its main base on the Crimean peninsula, which the country annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
In a telephone conversation with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) called for the increased Russian military presence to be dismantled in eastern Ukraine. According to Berlin, the aim is to de-escalate the situation. The Kremlin declared that Merkel and Putin had called on the conflicting parties to exercise restraint. Navalny. According to Russian sources, Merkel and Putin expressed concern about the situation in eastern Ukraine.
According to the Kremlin, Putin spoke of “provocative actions” by Ukraine, which had recently exacerbated the situation along the front. The government in Kiev must “strictly adhere to” the agreements previously made. This includes a direct dialogue with the separatists in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions and an autonomous status for the region. However, both are rejected by the Ukrainian side.
Zelensky announced a visit to eastern Ukraine on Thursday to get an idea of the situation. According to the presidential office, he plans to go to positions where the ceasefire “has been systematically violated in the past few days.” So he wanted to strengthen “the fighting spirit” of the army. Zelenskyi wrote on Twitter that he wanted to be at the scene of the “escalation” with the soldiers.
Another Ukrainian soldier was killed in a shelling by pro-Russian fighters on Thursday morning, the army announced. This increased the number of soldiers killed since the beginning of the year to 25. Since mid-February there has been increased fighting between the separatists and the government army in eastern Ukraine.
More than 13,000 people were killed in the conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, which has been going on since 2014. In July last year, the conflicting parties agreed on a ceasefire, but it has been repeatedly broken since then.
In the past few days, after reports of Russian and Ukrainian troops marching along the conflict area and violations of a ceasefire, international concerns have grown that the conflict could escalate again.
Russia sees Kiev’s actions over the past few days as “a struggle for international attention”. “These are probably just PR actions,” said the Russian chief negotiator in resolving the Ukraine conflict, Dmitri Kosak, according to the Interfax agency. However, there are probably no real intentions to ignite a large-scale war.
The confidante of Kremlin chief Putin warned Zelenskyj with clear words: “The beginning of fighting will be the beginning of the end of Ukraine.” When children are playing with matches, it is difficult to predict what will happen. Russia could be forced to intervene to protect the people in Donbass. Despite international protests, Russia has granted citizenship to residents of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
“We remember every fighter who died defending our state,” said Zelenskyi at the front. The President did not give any signs of de-escalation. Instead, he visited a soldiers’ canteen and praised the “high quality of the food”. Zelenskyi had promised in the 2019 election campaign to end the conflict.
According to information from Moscow, Putin and Merkel expressed concern about the situation. The negotiations must therefore be stepped up so that the peace plan agreed in 2015 “as the undisputed basis” for an end to the conflict can be fully implemented.
Putin blamed Kiev for the “provocative actions” that aggravated the situation along the front. Ukraine must “strictly adhere to” the agreements made previously. This includes a direct dialogue with the separatists in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions and an autonomous status for the region. The Ukrainian side vehemently rejects both.
Meanwhile, Russian chief negotiator Kosak announced new consultative talks between Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine later this month. Berlin and Paris have been trying to resolve the conflict diplomatically for years.