President Volodymyr Zelensky says Moscow is trying to put pressure on Kyiv by amassing its military forces along the Russian-Ukrainian border.
In a Facebook post, Zelensky noted he would highlight two points in the issue of war and peace. "First of all, it's about Donbas. Indeed, escalation has been observed since year-start. Twenty dead and 57 wounded in the first months alone. This is the price of war and defending our independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of our Ukraine."
At the same time, the head of state notes that work continues to ensure that the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine becomes effective.
"Sanctions against [Putin's political ally in Ukraine] Viktor Medvedchuk, our loud and firm position on Ukraine's independence and progress towards peace, and unconditional support from our Western partners annoy the enemy who invaded Donbas and occupied Crimea. This is understandable. Also understandable is that we would like to return to the situation where the ceasefire regime operated more efficiently – as it was from July 27, 2020, when over the course of months the number of wounded and killed in action was lower by scores. So we're working on this," Zelensky stressed.
Another point, as per Zelensky, is an ongoing buildup of Russia's military presence on the border with Ukraine. "Muscle flexing in the format of military exercises and possible provocations along the border is a regular thing for Russia. Thus, they try to create an atmosphere of threat and at the same time pressure during negotiations on a ceasefire and peace, which is our value," Zelensky added.
Read alsoDonbas: Kyiv invites NATO to hold joint military drills"Our Army is not only about strength and power, it is also about wisdom and balance. Our state is about unity. We are always prepared for any provocations," the president assured.
Zelensky noted that the process of negotiating settlement is complicated.
"But no one expected that it would be easy. It always hurts to lose our people. Each report of combat death brings pain to families, relatives, all Ukrainians, and me as president. That is why we never stop, why we work on agreeing on truce as the fastest tactical step. Our strategy is certainly about peace and the return of our people and territories," the president said.
Russian military buildup near Ukraine
- On March 30, 2021, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ruslan Khomchak, said the Russian Federation had amassed 28 battalion tactical groups along the state border of Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied territories and, under the guise of preparing for exercises, intends to deploy up to 25 battalion tactical groups, which poses a threat to Ukraine's military security.
- According to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the invaders are reinforcing their advanced units with reconnaissance teams and sniper pairs, also employing Russian army instructors to train personnel.
- Also, the Russian occupation forces are keeping alert artillery units in combat readiness for use in certain areas, including in settlements located on the occupied territory of Ukraine.