The European Union hopes that Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the request of the EU and the United States, will cease the military build-up near Ukraine’s border and the deployment will be withdrawn.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said this during a videoconference following a virtual meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on April 19, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
“The situation in the Ukrainian border is really very much worrisome. We invited the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to meet with us… The Russian military build-up at the Ukrainian border is very concerning. There are more than 100,000 Russian troops amassing at the Ukrainian borders and in Crimea. The risk of further escalation is evident. We have to commend Ukraine for its restrained response and we urge Russia to de-escalate and to defuse tensions,” Borrell said.
“It is the highest military deployment of the Russian army in the Ukrainian borders ever. It is clear that it is a matter of concern, because when you deploy a lot of troops a spark can jump here or there. The Minister [of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba] explained the number of casualties in the Ukrainian army compared with the same dates last year and it is clear that it is a very, very worrisome situation. Let us hope that this deployment will stop and that according to the request addressed to President [of Russia, Vladimir] Putin by, among other, Chancellor [of Germany, Angela] Merkel and President [of the United States of America, Joe] Biden, this deployment will be withdrawn," the EU High Representative said while answering journalists' questions.
He noted that the message of all EU ministers was very much clear: a complete reiteration of strong support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, including the non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea and the request for the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.
“We welcomed increased diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring Ukraine's territorial integrity. We confirmed that the European Union will attend the Summit of the Crimea Platform on the 23rd of August. At the same time, we talked about the need to speed up substantial progress on reforms. We welcomed Ukraine's ambition to approximate its policies to the European Green Deal. We talked about the delivery of vaccines by COVAX… But the most important message is our strong support to Ukraine and our concern about the Russian military build-up that has to stop in Crimea and on the border," Borrell said.
He also declared that at this stage, EU ministers did not consider the issue of new sanctions against Russia for its aggressive policy, but added that "things can change."
As reported, on April 19, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council proposed a step-by-step plan on how to discourage Moscow from further escalation.
The Russian armed forces have recently been building up troops near the state border of Ukraine in the north, east and south, as well as in occupied Crimea. In addition, the number of ceasefire violations by the armed formations of the Russian Federation in eastern Ukraine has increased; there are losses among the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. At the same time, the Russian Federation is conducting a propaganda campaign to justify possible aggression against Ukraine.
The U.S. and the EU announced their support for Ukraine and called on Russia to withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border.