Ukraine President Zelensky visits frontline in Donbas

Grant Boone
April 9, 2021

In March 2014, as the conflict in eastern Ukraine escalated, Western estimates put the number of Russian troops, militia or special forces on Ukraine's border at 25,000 to more than 30,000.

Moscow can not seemingly accept that Kiev is led by a pro-Western government, and, as a result, instead supports and arms anti-Western rebels in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.

"The start of hostilities will the beginning of an end for Ukraine", Kozak said.

Kozak was asked if Russian Federation would protect its citizens in eastern Ukraine.

Referring in his reply to Srebrenica, where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war, he said: "It all depends on the scale of the fire".

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday called on the parties to the conflict in southeastern Ukraine to exercise restraint, the Kremlin said.

Independent Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer says he can not rule out the possibility that Russia is preparing an escalation in the Donbass region. Video has emerged on social media of Russian trains moving heavy weaponry towards the region.

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Ukraine and Russian Federation have traded blame for the increase in violence in the conflict, which Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people since 2014.

A month later, Russian-backed rebels in the predominantly Russian-speaking Donbass seized the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. "We deeply doubt that it will somehow help Ukraine to deal with its internal problem". "The chancellor called for a reduction of these troop reinforcements to de-escalate tensions".

The Kremlin said in its readout of the Merkel phone call that "Vladimir Putin noted provocative actions by Kyiv which is deliberately inflaming the situation along the line of contact".

The Kremlin has not denied the troop movements but insisted that Moscow was "not threatening anyone".

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy flew to eastern Donbass in a show of support on Thursday. Between a ceasefire being signed last July and the end of 2020, just four Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the Donbass conflict.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy flew to eastern Donbass in a show of support on Thursday two days after he called on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to lay out a path for Ukraine to join the military bloc, whose expansion Moscow fiercely opposes.

The standoff has also pushed Ukrainian sovereign bonds to their lowest level since November. Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, has denied sending troops and heavy weapons to Donbass. Despite the ceasefire, sporadic fights have continued until now.

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