North Atlantic Treaty Organisation tells Russian Federation to end Ukraine military build-up

Tanya Simon
April 13, 2021

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed the Western military alliance's "unwavering" support for Ukraine and warned Moscow on Tuesday not to push its troop buildup along Russia's border with the neighbouring country.

Shortly after the annexation, Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine began fighting a conflict against the Ukrainian army that has so far claimed more than 13,000 lives, according to the UN.

Concern is mounting that the long-simmering conflict in east Ukraine could spiral back into wider fighting after reports of major Russian troop movements and an intensification of clashes with Moscow-backed separatists.

Back in 1994, Russian Federation signed the agreement along with the United States, promising military protection of Ukraine, so long as Ukraine abandoned its nuclear weapons, which they upheld.

Videos circulating online showing a continued military build-up on Russia's border with Ukraine is heightening fears about the potential eruption of conflict in Europe's east.

A special North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting Tuesday on Ukraine would make sure the alliance is not caught unaware, he said.

"We warn the United States that it is better to stay away from Crimea, from our Black Sea coast".

But, he added, "I do believe we have all tools available not only to prevent Russian Federation from making a single step forward, but also to make it withdraw from the occupied territories of Ukraine".

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Such measures, Kuleba said, could include "a new round of sanctions" or "a direct support aimed at strengthening Ukraine's defense capabilities".

"Any threat to us merely confirms our belief that our course is the right one", Ryabkov was quoted as saying, warning USA warships in the Black Sea to keep their distance, given what he said was the high risk of unspecified incidents.

Russian Federation denies Western claims that it has sent troops into eastern Ukraine to help the rebels, but officials say the army could intervene if Ukraine tries to retake the area by force. "Russia must end this military buildup in and around Ukraine, stop its provocations and deescalate immediately".

"Obviously, there can hardly be anything to rejoice about given that Turkish drones, as the story goes, are surfacing somewhere in Donbass", Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday. Kuleba is set to meet later on Tuesday with U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is in Brussels, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Friday.

Separately, two diplomats said Stoltenberg would chair a video conference with allied defence and foreign ministers on Wednesday.

Putin similarly held a summit in Finland in 2018 with then USA president Donald Trump, who caused a furor at home by appearing to accept the Russian leader's denials of election meddling.

Ukraine is a close partner to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, although it is not one of the 30 member states.

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