Monday, November 29, 2021

Border with Ukraine – NATO warns Russia "Provocations"

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In view of new troop movements in Russia, NATO has sent a clear warning to Moscow. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg demands that all provocations on the border with Ukraine be stopped.

NATO has warned Russia against military attacks in the border area with Ukraine. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Moscow on Monday to refrain from “any further provocations or aggressive actions”. “NATO is on the side of Ukraine,” emphasized Stoltenberg. The governments in Berlin and Paris were also extremely concerned. For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin described the US and NATO military exercises in the Black Sea as “provocative”.

At a joint appearance with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitri Kuleba in Brussels, Stoltenberg spoke of “large and unusual” Russian troops marching on the Ukrainian border. He announced that he would discuss the situation with the defense ministers of the EU countries in Brussels on Tuesday. Kuleba accused Moscow of wanting to “destabilize” its country. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had already warned Russia last week against an invasion of Ukraine.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office in Berlin said: “We are watching these military activities by Russia with concern.” With its European and transatlantic partners, Germany “agrees that we must prevent a military escalation”.

Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) and his French colleague Jean-Yves Le Drian called on Russia to “restrain”. They met their Ukrainian colleagues on the sidelines of the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. Germany and France are “firm in their resolute support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Maas and Le Drian said in a statement afterwards. “Any new attempt to undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity would have serious consequences,” they warned Moscow.

At the same time, Maas and Le Drian called on Ukraine to “maintain a level-headed attitude”. As early as the spring, Kiev had “made a significant contribution to de-escalating the situation”. The ministers referred to a massive Russian troop deployment near the Ukrainian border at the time.

The Foreign Office spokesman in Berlin also called on Russia “to return to the negotiating table as agreed and to exercise its influence over the separatists in such a way that the situation in eastern Ukraine is not further heated up”. Maas and Le Drian regretted that Russia had repeatedly refused to hold a meeting of foreign ministers in the so-called Normandy format.

French President Emmanuel Macron underlined in a telephone conversation with Putin that France was ready to “defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” as the Elysée Palace announced. According to the Kremlin, Putin criticized in the telephone conversation that the military exercises in the Black Sea “increased” tensions between Russia and NATO.

The Russian President was apparently referring to recent exercises by US and other NATO military ships in the sea area. At the weekend, Putin had already described these exercises as a “serious challenge”. The USA and the EU, on the other hand, have recently expressed their concern about current Russian troop movements in the border area with Ukraine.

In March, Russia gathered thousands of soldiers, heavy military equipment, naval ships and air force aircraft near the Ukrainian border and in the region of the annexed Crimean peninsula in a massive deployment of troops. After weeks, Moscow finally declared the alleged maneuver over and withdrew its soldiers.

The Ukrainian army has been fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. The West accuses Russia of supporting the separatists, which Moscow denies.

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