The European Union has called on Russia to refrain from steps that could further raise tensions in relations with Ukraine.

That's according to the European Commission's lead spokesperson for foreign affairs, Peter Stano.

"Hopefully, there will be no escalation, hopefully there will be no conflict. It would be really unacceptable and all the current contacts and diplomatic efforts which are ongoing are actually aimed at preventing this," Stano said a press briefing in Brussels April 12.

The situation around Ukraine, the spokesperson recalled, will be on the agenda of the upcoming meeting of EU foreign ministers. As UNIAN learned earlier, Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Policy, had invited Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to attend the meeting, to be held April 19.

Read alsoZelensky lodges request to talk with Putin about escalation in Donbas"The European Union, its member states, and the institutions – we are following very closely, and with severe concern, the worsening of the security situation in the eastern Ukraine and Russian troops' movements close to the Ukrainian border and also in the illegally annexed Crimea. The EU has called several times, through the High Representative but also through the individual leaders of the EU member states, for calm, for de-escalation, and we stress that the full implementation of the Minsk agreements is the only way forward and guarantee for a political and peaceful solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine," Stano said.

"We are calling upon Russian authorities to refrain from any steps that would lead to further tensions, and to step up the efforts on the side of Russia to implement the Minsk agreements," the spokesperson added.

The contacts over the current developments are ongoing, he noted, on various levels.

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.