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  HOME | World (Click here for more)

Ukrainian President Visits Donbas Amid Russian Troop Buildup

Kyiv- Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky visited military positions in Donbas on Thursday in a show of support to Ukrainian soldiers on the frontline in eastern Ukraine amid growing tensions with Russia, which has reportedly been amassing troops near the border.

Zelensky visited the areas where increasing violations of ceasefire on behalf of Russian-backed separatists were registered in recent days, the presidentís office said.

Five Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in Donbas this week.

The president paid his respects to the fallen soldiers with a minute of silence. "You are a real example of heroism and sacrifice. We remember every serviceman who lost his life while protecting our country,Ē he said.

Ukraine has accused the Russian-backed forces of increasing provocations in Donbas in recent days. This is the most significant escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine since the ceasefire was agreed in July 2020, it said.

At an extraordinary meeting of the Trilateral contact group yesterday, representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) urged all parties to observe the ceasefire but failed to issue a joint declaration because of Russiaís, the Ukrainian delegation said.

Ukraine also denounced a massive build-up of Russian military on its border.

According to the chief of staff of Ukrainian armed forces Ruslan Khomchak, as of Mar. 31 Russia has sent 28 tactical military groups to the Ukrainian border.

The US, NATO and the EU have expressed concern over the movement of Russian military vehicles and personnel near the border with Ukraine.

In a phone conversation on Thursday with Russian president Vladimir Putin, German chancellor Angela Merkel urged Moscow to reduce its troop buildup near the border with Ukraine, her office said.

Meanwhile, on an urgent visit to Kyiv at Ukraineís invitation, Polandís minister of foreign affairs Zbigniew Rau has assured his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba of his countryís support against any Russian aggression.

Poland is one of Ukraineís closest allies in the EU. "Ukraine is not alone in defending its sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of its borders," Rau said, according to the statement of Polandís foreign ministry.

He also reiterated Polandís support to Ukraineís EU and NATO membership aspirations. Ukrainian minister Kuleba expressed his concern about the deterioration of the security situation in Donbas and the Russian military buildup at the border.

"Our countries share a common vision of Europeís past and future. Ukraine is an integral part of united, free and peaceful Europe, and its EU and NATO accession will become a natural stage of a historical process," Kuleba said, according to a Ukrainian foreign ministry statement.

The ministers also discussed the construction of a controversial pipeline NordStream2, which is set to bypass Ukraine, and the upcoming summit of Crimean platform, Kievís initiative to drum up international support for the reintegration of the Russian-occupied peninsula.

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