Tensions between Russia and Ukraine erupt
Ukraine has been waging a fierce seven-year war with Russian-backed separatists on the eastern border in recent days, following the worst incidents in months.
Four Ukrainian soldiers were killed – the largest number of daily deaths by government forces since the last vibrating ceasefire took effect last July – after a long hour of fighting last Friday, north of the separatist stronghold of Donetsk.
Kyiv and Moscow accuse each other of escalating the conflict, which has destroyed about 14,000 lives since Russia seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
The Kremlin accused Ukrainian forces of resuming enemies as a prelude to full-scale fighting as they eased in 2015 peace agreement France and Germany mediated in Minsk.
“We are expressing concern over the growing tension and concern that the Ukrainian side may resort to provocative actions that could lead to war. We really do not want to see that,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Vladimir Putin told reporters on Wednesday, according to Interfax.
He added that despite the overwhelming evidence controlled by the separatists, Russia, which refuses to take part in the conflict, considers it a “civil war”.
Peskov said Putin stressed the “lack of an alternative” to the Minsk agreements in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday evening. Putin accused Ukraine of failing to comply with its obligations under the treaty and claimed it had “provoked” the latest appearance, according to a Kremlin reading.
The treaty is under pressure because Russia is reluctant to acknowledge its role in the war and Ukraine’s resistance to granting constitutional autonomy to the two warring regions.
The three leaders last met the President of Ukraine, Zelensky Volodymyr, To discuss the agreements reached in Paris in 2019, but made little progress.
Peskov said Putin, Macron and Merkel agreed that the summit was “essential”, but that it was likely to take place after the resumption of negotiations based on the Paris meeting.
The US has expressed concern over the latest outbreak. On Monday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yerma said the US had “continued support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic aspirations” in the face of ongoing attacks.
The U.S. European Command has raised its level to a “potential crisis that may occur,” according to the New York Times.
The Pentagon said: “We are aware of the reports and we are monitoring the situation. However, we will not talk to the intelligence accounts, but we will provide an update when appropriate. [watch] level, we do not discuss the details of intelligence for operational security reasons. “
Kiev and its western aides have accused Russia of directing and fueling what they describe as a separatist war represented in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
In recent weeks, officials have warned of military congestion near the conflict zone and the Crimean exercises, which have been starving water supplies since Ukraine closed access to the canals after the annexation.
Speaking about the deaths of soldiers in the Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday, Ruslan Khomchak, the country’s commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces, said Russia’s behavior was “aggressive” and a “threat to the state’s military security.”
“Under the guise of control exercises. . . Russian armed forces are gradually increasing their troops in the north, east and south near the Ukrainian state border, ”Khomchak said.
The U.S. State Department said it was aware of Ukrainian military reports on the movement of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. “We are discussing our concerns with NATO allies about this increase in ceasefire violations and tensions in the region.”
On Wednesday night, Leonid Kravchuk, head of the peace talks delegation in the format of Ukraine’s Minsk peace agreements, said his Russian counterparts had refused to accept a proposal in negotiations calling for a ceasefire from April 1.
“I don’t understand why the Russian delegation doesn’t consider it necessary to focus on saving people’s lives,” Kravchuk said.
Additional report by Washington’s Katrina Manson