Published on : 08/04/2021 – 15:33Modified : 08/04/2021 – 20:16
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky went to the front line of the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on Thursday. The move came as Kiev accuses Moscow of massing troops on the border and separatists of causing almost daily deadly armed incidents.
The situation continues to be tense in eastern Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the front line of the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on Thursday April 8. Armed clashes have been increasing there for several weeks against the backdrop of increased tensions with Moscow.
The Ukrainian head of state donned military fatigues, bulletproof vest and anti-Covid-19 mask to review troops in the trenches in the Lugansk region, the scene of recent clashes, according to images and a statement released by the Ukrainian Presidency.
“There is a deterioration of the situation in Donbass,” he said, lamenting that “snipers are shooting at our guys” and assuring that “the army is responding” to these attacks. “It is an honor for me to be there”, added the leader, who presented medals to soldiers and praised the “heroism” of those who “protect the borders of Ukraine”.
“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”,, shortly after the presidency announced a move to positions where Ukrainian servicemen “were killed and wounded” recently.
As the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, I want to be with our soldiers in the tough times in #Donbas. Going to the locations of the escalation. R.I.P. to the 23-year-old soldier who was shot last night. Ukraine 🇺🇦 needs peace and will do everything for this— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) April 8, 2021
The move came as Kiev accuses Moscow of massing troops at the border and separatists of causing almost daily deadly armed incidents.
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. The increase in clashes this year with pro-Russian separatists follows a widely respected record truce in the second half of 2020.
Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel “worried”
These tensions were raised during the telephone interview between Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel, whose country is with France co-sponsor of the peace process in the region.
Angela Merkel “asked him to reduce the Russian military presence in eastern Ukraine” to allow de-escalation, while Moscow says its troop movements are not threatening. For Vladimir Poutine, it is conversely Kiev which orchestrates “provocations” in order “to voluntarily worsen the situation” on the front.
Moscow’s representative in the peace negotiations, Dmitri Kozak, warned that Russia could “come to the defense” of the separatists in the event of a major Ukrainian military operation, citing the protection of the local population to which Moscow has distributed Russian passports.
He further estimated that Ukraine’s entry into NATO “will be the beginning of the collapse” of the country, reacting to Kiev’s request to accelerate its accession to the organization to send a “signal”. in Moscow.
“NATO is the only way to end the war”
Despite these tensions, Dimitri Kozak announced talks between Kiev, Moscow, Berlin and Paris at the level of political advisers on April 19.
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.
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.
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