NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has urged the Russian Federation to end its military build-up near Ukraine's borders.
He announced this during a joint press point with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Brussels on April 13, 2021.
"We are seriously concerned by ongoing developments. And NATO is monitoring the situation very closely. In recent weeks, Russia has moved thousands of combat-ready troops to Ukraine's borders. The largest massing of Russian troops since the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014," Stoltenberg said.
He noted several Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in eastern Ukraine over the last days.
"I want to express my condolences for the recent losses suffered by the Ukrainian Armed Forces," he said.
Read alsoEU appeals to Russia over amassing of troops at Ukraine borderAccording to Stoltenberg, "Russia's considerable military build-up is unjustified, unexplained, and deeply concerning."
"Russia must end this military build-up in and around Ukraine. Stop its provocations. And de-escalate immediately," he stressed.
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.
- On April 8, 2021, Khomchak assured the situation was under control, and the Ukrainian military was ready to respond to the escalation both in the temporarily occupied territory of Luhansk and Donetsk regions and along the entire Ukrainian-Russian border. He said, "We have foreseen appropriate measures of an immediate response to any provocation, to any enemy action."