Merkel tells Putin to pull back troops as Kremlin accuses Ukraine of provocations
Published : Thursday, 8 April, 2021 at 11:57 PM Count : 184
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to pull back the Kremlin’s military build-up near the border with Ukraine, while he in turn accused Kyiv of “provocative actions” in the conflict region.
Ukraine has raised the alarm over an increase in Russian forces near its eastern border as violence has risen along the line of contact separating its troops from Russian-backed separatists in its Donbass region.
“The Chancellor demanded that this build-up be unwound in order to de-escalate the situation,” Germany’s government said in a readout of a telephone call between Merkel and Putin.
Russia has said its forces pose no threat and are defensive, but they would stay there as long as Moscow saw fit.
The Kremlin dismissed a Ukrainian accusation that the build-up was intended to distract from domestic issues, including jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, ahead of September parliamentary elections.
“This has nothing to do with any detainees or anyone,” Dmitry Peskov told Reuters. Russia has to react with caution when it has “such a restless region as Ukraine near our borders with the potential for renewed hostilities”, he added.