Merkel Urges Russia to Reduce Troops on Ukraine Border

Henrietta Strickland
April 9, 2021

Nevertheless, on Wednesday, April 7, Lithuania announced that it will call on its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to support a Membership Action Plan for Ukraine.

While Russia has played down the likelihood of an imminent attack by either side, its heightened military presence around the conflict that erupted after President Vladimir Putin seized Crimea in 2014 risks setting off a renewed spiral of violence.

Why are tensions rising between Ukraine and Russian Federation?

Recently, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Ruslan Khomchak, said Russian Federation had already deployed 28 tactical battalions to the Ukraine border, to Donbass territories not under Kyiv's control and to Crimea. Moscow also occupied Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Despite the ceasefire, sporadic fights have continued until now.

Tensions have soared in eastern Ukraine in recent weeks after Vladimir Putin dispatched tanks, helicopters and thousands of troops to the Ukrainian border.

For their part, the rebels said one of their fighters was killed on the same day when Ukrainian troops fired 14 mortar bombs at a village on the outskirts of the city of Donetsk.

The very acceptance of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation risks a war for Ukraine, something all sides scarcely want, say experts. "They would just get stuck, as has happened so many times in the past", says the analyst. "We remember every warrior who died defending our state". On April 5 and 6, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, as well as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Though Ukraine doesn't meet NATO's membership standards as of yet, the United States has expressed its support for Kyiv's ongoing efforts to carry out the necessary reforms. The country has still had little control over eastern Ukraine, the stronghold of pro-Russian rebels.

The death of another Ukrainian soldier on Thursday brought the number killed this year to 25. The Pentagon, for its part, insisted that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation had already decided in 2018 that Ukraine would join the alliance, but did not elaborate further. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that while the USA supports Kyiv's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation aspirations, the decision on Ukraine joining the alliance is for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to make.

Psaki's rhetoric suggested that Ukraine's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership is a long shot for Washington.

The Office of the President of Ukraine later said that the leaders of Germany and France could discuss the situation in the Donbas with Putin but no decisions should be made without Ukraine.

"We call on Russian Federation to refrain from escalatory actions", said State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday.

Earlier on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked how long Russian forces would be stationed near Ukraine. "The amount of shelling is increasing", Denis Pushilin, a separatist leader in Donbass, was quoted as saying by TASS news agency.

Russian Federation has long opposed any North Atlantic Treaty Organisation enlargement - whether it be in Caucasia, with countries like Georgia, or be it across its long border with European states.

Russia, meanwhile, dialed back claims of aggression from its neighbor.

Mr Zelenskiy has mobilised army reservists in response, and called on Western powers to authorise Ukraine's inclusion in a programme for prospective members of the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation military alliance. The EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has also given Ukraine's government his assurances.

"If, as our president says, there is a Srebrenica there, we shall probably have to come to their defence", Mr Kozak said.

Ruslan Leviev, from CIT, told BBC Ukraine: 'We notice the movement of all the units.

For a long time, Macedonia could not join due to Greece's opposition.

Other than Russia, Ukraine also has serious political problems with Hungary, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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