France has asked the Russian Federation to clarify, using OSCE channels, recent significant troop movements near the border with Ukraine.
This was announced by the French Foreign Ministry.
It says that French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian held telephone conversations with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas.
"France considers it important and urgent for Russia to provide clarifications on the framework and justifications for these movements, including through OSCE channels. We call on Russia to cease its provocations and to take with no delay the necessary initiatives to initiate a de-escalation," the French Ministry said.
The French Minister recalled France's full support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. "In this context, France underlines that it does not and will not recognize Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. We support the posture of restraint and responsibility adopted by the Ukrainian authorities in this context," he said.
According to him, France will continue its diplomatic efforts, in close liaison with Germany within the Normandy Format, to achieve the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. "These efforts remain essential to achieve a de-escalation of tensions and a resolution of the Ukraine crisis," he said.
Russian troops amassing along Ukraine's borders
- On March 30, 2021, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel-General Ruslan Khomchak said Russia had deployed 28 battalion tactical groups along the state border of Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied territories. It is also said to be planning to bring up to 25 battalion tactical groups under the guise of preparing for military drills. Such actions pose a threat to Ukraine's military security.
- According to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, enemy troops are reinforcing their advanced units with reconnaissance teams and sniper pairs, involving Russian army instructors in personnel training. Russia-led forces' artillery units are reportedly on full alert in certain districts, including villages and towns in occupied Ukrainian territory.
- On March 31, 2021, The New York Times reported Russia was pulling 4,000 troops to the border with Ukraine.
- Footage was shared on the Internet, showing a train with Russian military hardware en route along the Kerch Strait bridge to occupied Crimea.
- The U.S. European Command raised its alert status to the highest level after fighting had resumed between Russia-led forces and Ukrainian troops in Donetsk region.
- The U.S. Department of Defense said it was "aware of Russian troop movements" on Ukraine's borders and was concerned about recent escalations of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.
- The United States, finding reports of Russian military movements on Ukraine's border credible, asked Moscow to explain the "provocations" and is ready to engage on the situation.