Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was traveling to the eastern front of the country on Thursday after a surge in clashes with separatists and a surge in tensions with Moscow.
The battle between Ukrainian troops and separatists has intensified in recent weeks, raising the risk of a large-scale expansion of long-term conflict over the Donbas region, which speaks primarily Russian.
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 called for assistance from Ukrainian Western allies, Zelensky said, saying that the ceasefire had been “systematically violated recently” and that Ukrainian soldiers were scheduled to visit where they were killed or injured.
“I want to be with the soldiers in the tough times of Donbas,” Zelensky said. “Go to the place of escalation … Ukraine needs peace and will do everything for this.”
The fighting in the conflict that broke out after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 calmed down last year as a new ceasefire agreement was signed.
However, clashes, primarily involving artillery and mortars, have picked up again since the beginning of the year, with both blaming each other.
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.
Separatists are widely seen as having Russia’s political and military support, which Moscow has denied.
Kiev’s western allies have issued a series of statements warning Russia of further action and calling for an explanation of its military buildup.
The Kremlin did not deny the movement of the army, but Moscow claimed that “no one was threatening.”
Earlier this week, Zelensky called on NATO to accelerate its request to join the alliance, saying this was the only way to end the conflict.
Members of the alliance responded by calling on Kiev to continue military and defense reforms.
Some observers say Moscow may be testing U.S. President Joe Biden’s commitment to defend Ukraine, but it is unclear what caused the recent escalation of tensions and clashes. ..
In his first call with Zelensky earlier this month, Biden confirmed Washington’s “unwavering support” for Kiev in a conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 13,000 people since 2014.
Since 2015, France-Germany-mediated peace talks have failed to end the battle.
Zelensky, a television comedian and political outsider, came to power in 2019 with a vow to resolve the dispute.
He met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris that year and reached some agreements on prisoner exchange, but little progress has been made since then and no new meetings are planned.
Ukraine’s Zelensky To Visit Frontline After Surge In Clashes Source link Ukraine’s Zelensky To Visit Frontline After Surge In Clashes