German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday asked Russia to reduce its military presence in the border region with Ukraine, in a telephone interview with President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders spoke of “the strengthening of the Russian military presence in eastern Ukraine”, according to a statement from the German government and “the Chancellor asked that these reinforcements of troops be reduced with the aim of de-escalation”.
The Kremlin, for its part, said in a statement that Mr. Putin and Ms. Merkel “were concerned about escalating tensions” in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainians and Westerners accuse the pro-Russian separatists and Moscow of being responsible for the outbreak of hostilities. The Russian president insisted with the Chancellor on the responsibility of Kiev “whose provocations aim lately to voluntarily worsen the situation on the line of contact”, according to the Kremlin.
The two leaders thus called for “restraint and the activation of the negotiation process”, adds Moscow, while the peace talks which bring together Ukraine and Russia, with Franco-German mediation, have reached an impasse. . The last summit took place in December 2019, no concrete political progress has taken place since and no new meetings are planned.
The conversation between Mr Putin and Ms Merkel comes as Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of massing troops on the border and pro-Russian separatists of causing almost daily deadly armed incidents. The two leaders discussed other subjects such as the fate of the imprisoned Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny, the conflict in Syria and the situation in Libya.
Get the latest news delivered to your inbox
Follow us on social media networks