NATO chief sounds alarm over Russian activity in eastern Ukraine


 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has voiced concern about recent Russian military activity in and around Ukraine as well as ceasefire violations.

Stoltenberg voiced the concern in a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy.

“NATO firmly supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the military alliance chief tweeted on Tuesday after the conversation, in a warning to Moscow.

Amid reports of Russian troop deployments, concern is growing that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine could escalate again.

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Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula seven years ago after a controversial referendum. Parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions along the Russian border are controlled by rebels supported by Moscow.

As a result of the fighting with government troops, more than 13,000 people have been killed, according to UN estimates.

Despite an agreed ceasefire, there have been repeated deadly clashes in eastern Ukraine in the past few weeks.

Since the beginning of this year alone, at least 24 soldiers have died on the Ukrainian government side.

Separatists recently spoke of some 23 people killed in their area.

The warning from NATO comes after similar worries were expressed by the United States and Britain.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told journalists in a press briefing there were “credible reports” of Russian troop movements along the borders of Ukraine and occupied Crimea.

US President Joe Biden recently reaffirmed to Zelensky Washington’s backing for Kiev, Price noted.

“We have asked Russia for an explanation of these provocations, but most importantly what we have signalled directly with our Ukrainian partners is a message of reassurance,” Price told journalists.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also spoke with Zelensky on Monday, and “reaffirmed our unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to his spokesperson.

“They agreed to continue working closely with international partners to monitor the situation and ensure there is no further escalation,” Johnson’s spokesperson added. (dpa/NAN)

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