News 6 april — 17:20

Russia asks West to do more to defuse Ukraine tensions

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Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged on Tuesday Germany and France to take a more active role in easing tensions in Ukraine, Anadolu Agency reports.

Speaking at a news conference in New Delhi following a meeting with his Indian counterpart, Lavrov said gathering the Ukrainian Armed Forces near the contact line in the east of the country is a violation of the Minsk Agreement on the Ukrainian settlement.

He said that Germany and France are guarantor-countries of the agreement and they have to make "more energetic" efforts.

"Unfortunately, every time the Normandy format [Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine] meets in one capacity or another, whether at the level of leaders, representatives, or employees of foreign ministries, we do not see energetic actions on the part of our French and German colleagues to bring the Ukrainian side to its senses. And now there is too much evidence that this needs to be done urgently," he said.

Lavrov said Russia is "concerned" over what is happening on Donbass and "disappointed" by the reaction of the West, which he said closes eyes on "obvious violations of the Minsk Agreement by Kyiv".

The 2014 agreement was signed by Russia, Ukraine and some other factions to end war in Donbass.

Talks with US

In a related development, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Tuesday that US and Russian officials have held talks on the situation in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking to Russian state news agency TASS, Ryabkov said the Russian side "explicitly" outlined to the American side what is happening in Donbass.

"We have had contacts with the US administration on the situation in the Donbass. We have fully explained to the American side what is happening. There is an increasingly provocative and defiant line on the part of Kyiv and its Western patrons, led by the United States, in eastern Ukraine. Washington should be concerned about the consequences of this coordinated policy," Ryabkov said.

Heightened tensions on border

In a separate statement, Operational Command East of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said two soldiers were killed in an attack by Russia-backed Donetsk separatists.

The US Department of State said on Monday it has "credible" reports of Russian military movements on Ukraine’s border, asking Moscow for an explanation.

The same day UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and "reiterated the UK’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity."

"Russia's recent actions pose a serious challenge to the security of NATO members and entire Europe. Thanked BorisJohnson in a conversation for continued support. We feel that Ukraine is not alone. We are supported by the G7 countries. The NATO MAP is a top priority for Ukraine," Zelensky responded to Johnson in a tweet.

Last month, Ukrainian Chief of General Staff Ruslan Homchak told parliament that Russia was sending troops near the border under the pretext of military drills.

The Trilateral Contact Group, consisting of Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE, on resolving the crisis in the Donbass region, had agreed to a comprehensive cease-fire starting on July 27, 2020.

Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine has seen more than 13,000 people killed since 2014, according to the UN.

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