Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday visited the nation’s jap frontline after a latest surge in clashes between Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists. The go to got here amid rising tensions, with Russian President Vladimir Putin accusing Kiev of provocative motion throughout a telephone name with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Zelensky’s go to to positions the place a ceasefire “has been systematically violated in latest days” was geared toward “sustaining the combating spirit”, the presidency stated in a press release.
One other soldier was killed early Thursday after separatists opened hearth on Ukrainian positions with mortars and artillery, the Ukrainian army stated, bringing to 25 the variety of its troops killed because the begin of the yr.
Fears have been mounting of a significant escalation of the battle in jap Ukraine, the place authorities forces have battled separatists within the primarily Russian-speaking Donbas area since 2014.
Ukraine final week accused Russia of massing hundreds of army personnel on its northern and jap borders in addition to on the Crimean peninsula annexed by Moscow.
The Kremlin has not denied the troop actions however insisted that Moscow was “not threatening anybody”.
Kiev’s Western allies have rushed to its defence with a sequence of statements warning Russia in opposition to taking additional motion and searching for explanations for its troop build-up.
Putin, Merkel specific ‘concern’
The Kremlin readout of the decision additionally stated Putin “drew consideration to the provocative actions of Kiev, which has not too long ago been purposefully exacerbating the scenario on the frontline”.
The 2 leaders additionally mentioned the case of jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny and Libya, the Kremlin stated.
Biden presents ‘unwavering assist’
Earlier this week, Zelensky urged NATO to hurry up his nation’s request for membership within the alliance, saying this was the one technique to finish the battle.
Alliance members responded with requires Kiev to proceed army and defence reforms.
It’s unclear what set off the newest escalation in tensions and clashes, although some observers say Moscow could also be testing US President Joe Biden‘s committment to defend Ukraine.
In his first name with Zelensky earlier this month, Biden affirmed Washington’s “unwavering assist” for Kiev within the battle, which has claimed greater than 13,000 lives since 2014.
Peace talks mediated by France and Germany since 2015 have failed to finish the combating.
Zelensky, a tv comic and political outsider, got here to energy in 2019 vowing to resolve the battle.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)