Both NATO and the French president are warning Moscow against taking aggressive action against Ukraine.
At the same time, Russia is increasing its support for groups in conflict-torn eastern Ukraine.
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
Macron’s message to Moscow was clear: France is ready to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity – practically eastern Ukraine, where separatists want to secede from Kiev.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes Russian action could force things to peak:
“We hope our friends will realize that elections are imminent between pumping more Russian hydrocarbons into new massive pipelines, defending Ukraine and defending peace and stability,” he said in a draft letter.
eyes of NATO
Signs of increased Russian involvement in the conflict zone also prompted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to comment on the development:
NATO is vigilant. We are following the situation closely. Further provocations or aggressive actions on the part of Russia could cause serious concern (on the part of NATO).
One of the reasons for Stoltenberg’s proposal are reports of an increase in Russian troop concentrations on the Russian border with Ukraine. Following a meeting with Ukraine’s foreign minister on Monday, Stoltenberg also called for more transparency and information about Russian military activities in the region.
Remember the Crimea
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that up to 100,000 Russian soldiers had been massed in areas close to the border. It is also alleged that Russian forces are stationed on Ukrainian soil to aid the separatists.
On Monday, the German foreign minister called on Moscow to “exercise restraint”, as the US secretary of state has done in the past.
“It would be a big mistake for Russia to repeat what it did in 2014,” Blinken said last week, referring to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Russian hand stretched
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday to support humanitarian efforts in eastern Ukraine, Russian news agency TASS reported.
The decree also stipulates that Russia’s trade barriers to imports and exports of goods from Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the region controlled by Ukrainian separatists with close ties to Moscow, will be lifted.
The messages were published by several Russian state-controlled media, which were quoted by Reuters.
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