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Kremlin warns against Ukrainian admission into NATO

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Ukraine's admission into NATO would only exacerbate the crisis in the southeast of the country, Russia said on Tuesday.

The several million residents of the separatist regions in the country's southeast consider such prospects "deeply unacceptable," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow.

"We deeply doubt that this [Ukraine's admission to NATO] will somehow help Ukraine to cope with its internal problems. From our point of view, this will further aggravate the situation, because when talking about joining NATO, you can in no way body_abstract from the opinion of people," said Peskov.

With the situation in southeast Ukraine leaving "much to be desired," there is no signs that Kyiv intends "to calm down" and "take control of its armed forces," added the official.

Peskov noted that Moscow remains "concerned" about the situation and that Russian President Vladimir Putin had raised these worries with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

"The main thing is that nothing provokes military hostilities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces against their own people, against people who live in the self-proclaimed republics," he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr ​​​​​​​Zelensky said in a phone talk with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that his country's membership in NATO was the only way to end the war in Donbas.

"We strive to reform our army and defense sector, but reforms alone will not stop Russia. NATO is the only way to end the war in the Donbas. The MAP [membership action plan] will be a real signal for the Russian Federation," he said.

Zelensky thanked Stoltenberg for "the alliance's attention to the security situation around Ukraine" and called on NATO member states to pay more attention to security issues in the Black Sea and strengthen their military presence in the Black Sea region as "a powerful factor for deterring Russia."

In 2008, NATO adopted a political statement saying Ukraine and Georgia would eventually become NATO members.

At a news conference on Feb. 9 following a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmygal, Stoltenberg said that the date of Ukraine's accession to NATO had yet to be determined but that the closer the country was to the standards of the alliance, the closer it is to joining.

In February 2019, the Ukrainian parliament -- the Verkhovna Rada -- approved amendments to the constitution that enshrine the country's desire to join NATO with the wording "the irreversibility of the Euro-Atlantic course of Ukraine."

Currently, Ukraine has the status of a NATO partner with enhanced capabilities.

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.

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

In a speech on March 30 to the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rafa, Ukrainian Chief of General Staff Ruslan Homchak said the Russian Armed Forces were sending troops near the borders of Ukraine under the pretext of military exercises.

For his part, Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said Russia was moving its armed forces within its territory at its discretion, and that it does not contain a threat to anyone.

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