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US concerned about movements of Russian troops near Ukraine, discussing with NATO

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visits the positions of the armed forces near the front line with Russian-backed separatists during his working trip to the Donbass region, Ukraine April 8, 2021.

Ukrainian presidential press service Materials | via Reuters

WASHINGTON The Biden administration said Thursday it was engaged in discussions with NATO allies about escalating tensions in Ukraine as Russia has increased its military presence near the country’s border.

“Russia now has more troops on the border with Ukraine than at any time since 2014, five Ukrainian soldiers have been killed this week alone,” White House spokesman Jen Psaki told a news conference, calling the issue “deeply boring”.

“The United States is increasingly concerned about the recent escalation of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, including the movement of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border,” she said, adding that the Biden administration was consulting with NATO allies. -s about rising tensions and ceasefire violations.

Psaki’s comments follow a controversial phone call between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which she demanded that Moscow reduce its force position in the area near eastern Ukraine.

“The chancellor demanded that this building not be resolved to de-escalate the situation,” the German government wrote in a reading of the call between the two leaders.

In recent weeks, Russia has increased its military presence along the Ukrainian border, sparking concerns in the West of a thriving military conflict between the two neighboring countries. The Russian Defense Ministry has said it is conducting more than 4,000 military exercises this month to inspect the readiness of its forces.

“Russia’s armed forces are on Russian territory in countries it deems necessary and appropriate, and they will remain there as long as our military leadership and supreme commander deem it appropriate,” the Kremlin spokesman said. Dmitry Peskov said when asked how long Russian forces would stay close to Ukraine, according to Reuters.

Read more: The West awaits Putin’s next move as Russia-Ukraine tensions rise

Last month, the Ukrainian government said four of its soldiers were killed by Russian bombing in the Donbass. Moscow has denied having forces in eastern Ukraine. Kyiv has been battling Russian-backed separatists in a conflict that has left at least 13,000 people dead since 2014, according to UN figures.

The Kremlin has said it is concerned about rising tensions in eastern Ukraine and feared that Kiev forces were trying to resume a conflict.

“It is not entirely clear what the Russians are doing there, we would like to understand this more, and that the uncertainty is definitely not contributing to a more stable and secure situation,” the spokesman told reporters on Wednesday. Pentagon John Kirby.

“As I said, the full intentions are not 100% clear and we would like to understand more about what the Russians are doing there and what they intend to do there, but it is not favorable, this construction and a pretty way rapid construction is not conducive to greater stability, “Kirby added.

The gathering of Russian troops has led to repeated calls by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to speed up his nation’s accession to the NATO alliance. President Joe Biden spoke with Zelenskiy last week, expressing US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty “in the face of Russia’s continued aggression.”

When asked about Ukraine’s possible entry into the alliance, the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House reiterated that all eligible countries must meet the NATO standard for membership.

“We are committed to ensuring that aspiring countries wishing to join NATO meet the organisation’s standard of membership,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said when asked about Ukraine’s status.

“To this end, we continue to urge the Ukrainian government to implement the deep, comprehensive and timely reforms needed to build a more stable, democratic, prosperous and free country,” he added.

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