German Chancellor Angela Merkel has had a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss ongoing escalation in Donbas, eastern Ukraine.
The readout of the phone call is available on the website of Germany's Federal Government on April 8.
During the conversation, Merkel asked Putin to reduce the number of Russian troops near Ukraine's borders.
"The subject of the conversation, among other things, was the increased Russian military presence in the vicinity of eastern Ukraine. The Chancellor called for the withdrawal of the forces to de-escalate the situation," the German government's press service said in the readout.
The two leaders also discussed a number of other foreign policy issues, in particular Syria, Libya, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. They also touched upon the case of the convicted critic of the Kremlin, Alexei Navalny.
Berlin did not disclose more details of the conversation.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin's website says that Putin complained to Merkel about the "provocative actions of Kyiv." "Vladimir Putin drew attention to the provocative actions of [Kyiv] which is now deliberately aggravating the situation along the line of contact," the Kremlin's press service said in its readout.
The Kremlin's readout does not mention Merkel's appeals addressed to Putin.
Russian troops amassed 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.
- 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.
- On April 1, 2021, the Kremlin commented on the movement of Russian troops near Ukraine's borders, saying this should not cause "any concern" to anyone.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Moscow is trying to put pressure on Kyiv by amassing its military forces along the Russian-Ukrainian border. At the same time, he assures Ukraine is ready to counter any provocation and continues to defend in the negotiations the position of maintaining a more effective ceasefire in Donbas.
- The Ukrainian Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate does not rule out that enemy forces may try to go for an incursion and deploy their troops deeper into the territory of Ukraine. According to intelligence reports, Russia is building up its military presence near the Ukrainian borders and is completing the preparation of a set of measures aimed at forcing Ukraine into a military response.
- On April 1, 2021, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran had a phone call on the initiative of the American side. Austin condemned the recent aggressive and provocative actions by Russia in eastern Ukraine and assured his counterpart of U.S. readiness to support Ukraine in the context of Russia's ongoing aggression in Donbas and Crimea.
- In turn, the Kremlin vowed "additional measures" if the U.S. troops are deployed on the territory of Ukraine.
- U.S. President Joe Biden in his first call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on April 2, 2021, affirmed the U.S. "unwavering support" for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity "in the face of Russia's ongoing aggression" in Donbas and Crimea.