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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky goes to the front line of the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on Thursday. A move that comes as Kiev accuses Moscow of massing troops at the border and the separatists of causing almost daily deadly armed incidents.
The situation continues to be tense in eastern Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky is due to visit the front line of the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on Thursday, April 8. Armed clashes have been increasing there for several weeks against a backdrop of increased tensions with Moscow.
“As the supreme commander-in-chief, I want to be with our soldiers in difficult times” and “to go to the scene of the escalation”, wrote Volodymyr Zelensky on Twitter, shortly after the presidency announced a move to positions where Ukrainian servicemen “were killed and wounded” recently.
This move comes as Kiev accuses Moscow of massing troops at the border and the separatists of causing almost daily deadly armed incidents.
Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel “worried”
At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Poutine and German Chancellor Angela Merkel “were concerned about this escalation of tensions”, in a statement released Thursday after a telephone interview.
Vladimir Poutine insisted with Angela Merkel on the responsibility of Kiev “whose provocations aim lately to voluntarily worsen the situation on the line of contact”. Ukrainians and Westerners, conversely, accuse the pro-Russian separatists and Moscow of causing clashes and tensions.
The German Chancellor, for her part, asked Russia to reduce its military presence in the region “with the aim of de-escalation”.
25 soldiers killed since the beginning of the year
On Thursday again, a Ukrainian soldier succumbed to his injuries, bringing the number of soldiers killed since the start of the year to 25, according to the Defense Ministry. In 2020, Ukraine lost 50 soldiers on the front line, according to the presidency.
Kiev and its Western allies are worried that Moscow, considered the military godfather of the separatists, is assembling soldiers and equipment at its borders, as well as in the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia.
The Russian authorities affirm that these movements of troops are not threatening and in return accuse Ukraine of being responsible for the clashes on the front and of wanting to definitively derail the peace talks which are at a deep impasse.
These heated verbal exchanges and the increase in clashes this year with pro-Russian separatists follow a record truce widely respected during the second half of 2020. Ukraine has received support from the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom. European Union.
“NATO is the only way to end the war”
The Pentagon also announced last week that US forces in Europe had raised their alert levels following “recent escalations of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.” And President Joe Biden assured Volodymyr Zelensky of his “unwavering” support.
In this context, President Zelensky on Tuesday called on NATO to speed up his country’s membership in order to send a “real signal” to Russia. “NATO is the only way to end the war” he wrote in a tweet addressed to the secretary general of the Atlanticist organization, Jens Stoltenberg, after their telephone interview.
The Kremlin, fiercely opposed to the enlargement of the Alliance which it considers its strategic adversary, has ruled that such a move would worsen the conflict with the separatists. NATO considers however that the accession of Ukraine is not on the agenda.
The war in Donbass began in April 2014, shortly after Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, in the wake of a pro-Western revolution in Ukraine.
This conflict has since left more than 13,000 dead and nearly 1.5 million displaced. The intensity of the fighting declined significantly after the Minsk peace accords reached in early 2015, but the political process has not progressed much since.