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Ukraine’s Zelensky On Frontline As Merkel Urges Putin To Pull Back Troops

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the eastern front of the country on Thursday as German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Vladimir Putin to reduce the buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine.

Zelensky’s frontline visit has intensified the battle between Ukrainian troops and separatists in recent weeks, Russia has strengthened its troops along the border, and a long-term conflict in Ukraine’s predominantly Russian-speaking eastern part. Came because it caused fear of a large-scale expansion of.

In a call with Putin on Thursday, Merkel urged him to reduce Moscow’s “military reinforcements” at the border “to ease tensions.”

“Recently, attention has been focused on Kiev’s provocative actions that have deliberately exacerbated the frontline situation,” Putin said.

Ukrainian troops announced Thursday that another soldier had been killed, bringing the number of troops killed from the beginning of the year to 25, compared to 50 in 2020 overall.

In a statement, the president said he had visited a place where the “maximum number of violations” of the ceasefire was recorded, Mr Zelensky, who urged NATO to join the alliance to support Ukraine sooner.

Images released by his office showed Zelensky in a trench wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest handing out prizes to Ukrainian soldiers and waving.

“Thank you for calming people and protecting our land. You are a real example of heroism and dedication,” Zelensky said. “We remember all the soldiers who died to protect our state.”

The fighting in the conflict that broke out after Russia merged Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 subsided in 2020 as a new ceasefire agreement was signed in July last year.

However, clashes, primarily involving artillery and mortars, have picked up again since the beginning of the year, with both blaming each other.

Ukrainian separatists are widely seen as having Russia’s political and military support, which Moscow has denied.

Ukraine accused Russia of gathering thousands of military personnel not only on the Crimean Peninsula, but also on the northern and eastern borders last week.





Twenty-five Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the year, compared to 50 in 2020 overall.
AFP / STR

Ukraine and Russia, along with France and Germany, are part of a Normandy-style country that has sought to resolve conflicts since 2015 but failed to end the fighting.

On Thursday, Kremlin pointman Dmitry Kozak on the relationship between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists said peace talks would resume on April 19.

He warned that the escalation of the conflict was “the beginning of the end of Ukraine” and described the scenario in the former Soviet Union as “a shot of the face, not a shot of the foot”.

Western allies in Kiev have repeatedly warned Russia to take further action and seek clarification on the buildup of troops at the Ukrainian border.

The Kremlin did not deny the movement of the army, but Moscow claimed that “no one was threatening.”

Zelensky called on NATO this week to accelerate its request to join the alliance, saying this is the only way to end the conflict.

Members of the alliance responded by calling on Kiev to continue military and defense reforms.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said in a statement Thursday that NATO’s support for Ukraine “does not contribute to security” and “does not contribute to conflict resolution.”

She added that Moscow is concerned about “Financial and backing of Ukrainian troops by NATO countries”, as well as alliances supplying deadly weapons and Western instructors training Ukrainian military personnel.

Analysts disagree on Russia’s true intentions in a recent escalation of tensions with Kiev, and some observers are testing U.S. President Joe Biden’s commitment to protect Ukraine by Moscow. It states that there is a possibility.

In his first call with Zelensky last week, Biden confirmed Washington’s “unwavering support” for Kiev in a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014.

Zelensky, a television comedian and political outsider, came to power in 2019 with a vow to resolve the dispute.

He met Putin in Paris in December 2019, and several deals were closed in the prisoner exchange, but little progress has been made since then and no new meetings are planned.



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