Putin accuses Ukraine of provocations in phone call with Merkel

Russia says it could be forced to protect its citizens in east Ukraine: TASS

Russia says it could be forced to protect its citizens in east Ukraine: TASS

Violence has risen along the line of contact between government forces and separatists in Ukraine's eastern Donbass region.

Russian-backed separatist rebels and Ukrainian troops have been clashing in the east of the country.

Psaki did not elaborate on the number of Russian troops deployed on Ukraine's border.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said those living in eastern Ukraine would not tolerate North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership, and that rhetoric could further destabilise the Donbass region.

The very acceptance of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation risks a war for Ukraine, something all sides scarcely want, say experts.

He also warned that an escalation could mark the "beginning of the end" for Ukraine - "not a shot in the leg, but in the face".

Why are tensions rising between Ukraine and Russian Federation?

The Kyiv Post wrote Wednesday that Ukrainian soldiers are "holding the line amid Russian escalation" and the coronavirus pandemic, while "the Kremlin has massed troops along Ukraine's eastern borders for what it describes as routine military exercises".

Recently, with their military build-up across the Ukrainian border, Russian Federation has signalled that it may launch another military operation against Ukraine, leading to policymakers in Kiev to push their political agenda to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

More footage shows the nuclear-capable 2S4 Tyulpan self-propelled mortar system being moved on a military train in Krasnodar region.

Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the PENTA Center of Applied Political Studies in Kyiv, says Moscow is trying to force the Ukrainian government to make concessions in negotiations over Donbass. Zelenskiy said this week that 24 Ukrainian servicemen had been killed so far this year.

An Ukrainian serviceman digs the ground of a trench as he stands at his post on the frontline on April 8
An Ukrainian serviceman digs the ground of a trench as he stands at his post on the frontline on April 8 Credit AFP

He said 26 Ukrainian troops had been killed since the start of the year, compared to 50 in all of 2020.

"His domestic position, only recently very shaky, has improved on a patriotic wave, he won the coveted prize of a Biden call and he revitalized Ukraine's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership drive", Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, said Thursday in a tweet.

According to the presidency, Zelensky will meet frontline soldiers during his visit, which aims to boost morale.

Putin today accused Ukraine of "provocative actions" in a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The KPU said that repeated scares over hypothetical Russian invasions had been raised by the Ukrainian authorities since 2014, but pointed out that neither Russia nor Ukraine had anything to gain from renewed fighting in the Donbass when both are struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.

The fear among many is a repeat of the five-day war between Russian Federation and Georgia in 2008 that Western officials blamed on provocations from the Kremlin.

"If they try to do it like in Srebrenica, as our president said, we will likely have to come to their defense", he said in a reference to the July 1995 massacre of civilians in Srebrenica by Bosnian Serb forces during the Bosnian war. If there is, as our president says, Srebrenica, apparently we will have to step in to defend (them)'.

Mr Kozak suggested the rebels could hold their own for now against Ukrainian forces as they consisted of "battle-hardened units".

Germany and France, which are mediating between Kyiv and Moscow in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine as part of the so-called Normandy Format, have made similar pledges.

This sparked a major rift with Western nations, prompting the European Union and the United States to impose sanctions on Russian Federation. Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, has denied sending troops and heavy weapons to Donbass.

Zelenskiy called on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on Tuesday to lay out a path for Ukraine to join the Western military alliance.

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