Merkel calls on Putin to reduce Russia's military presence near Ukraine.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the situation around Ukraine, German government spokesperson Ulrike Demmer has said.

"The subject of the conversation, among other things, was Russia's increased military presence near eastern Ukraine. The chancellor called for a reduction in troop reinforcements to de-escalate the situation," Demmer said.

A number of other foreign policy issues were also discussed, including Syria, Libya, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The case of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was also considered.

Merkel and French President Emanuel Macron spoke with Putin by phone a week ago, on March 30. Both Western partners in the Normandy Format are concerned about the deployment of Russian troops to Ukraine's borders in violation of the ceasefire regime in eastern Ukraine.

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