Tensions between Russia and Ukraine cooled on Wednesday, when Moscow accused Kyiv and NATO of continuing military preparations amid growing concerns about possible hostile actions in the conflict Donbas region.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called on Ukraine and its transatlantic security alliance, seeing Kyiv as an ally, to refrain from actions that could lead to escalation, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.
Kyiv and Moscow have blamed the increase in clashes in Donbas, where Ukrainian troops have been fighting Russian-backed separatists since rebels occupied a territory there in April 2014. .
Ukraine says the conflict has left more than 14,000 people dead
The latest clashes come as Ukraine, its Western allies and NATO accuse Russia of designing a “provocation” of tens of thousands of soldiers on Ukraine’s eastern border and in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in March 2014.
In return, Russia accused NATO and its leading US coalition member of “provocative activities” in the Black Sea region.
The United States and its NATO allies regularly send naval ships to the Black Sea, upset Moscow. However, Washington reversed its plans to deploy two destroyers in the region earlier this month as the rift between Kyiv and the Kremlin intensified.
Kyiv calls for talks with the Kremlin
In a separate development, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday signed a law allowing reserve personnel to be called into the army without notice of encouragement.
Adopted by parliament in late March, the measure has the potential to significantly increase the country’s armed forces.
Zelenskyy’s office said: “This will help to rapidly equip military units of all defense forces, thereby significantly increasing their combat effectiveness during military invasions.
Kyiv has also called for talks with Moscow, in an apparent attempt to ease ongoing tensions.
In a speech to the country given Tuesday, Zelenskyy challenged his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to meet him in the Donbas region to negotiate an end to the conflict there.
The President of Ukraine, who was elected in 2019 with a promise to end the fighting, also accused Russia of playing a doubles game by engaging in peace talks while concentrating troops on the Ukrainian border.
Recent satellite images show hundreds of Russian military vehicles stationed at various bases, firing ranges and field camps along the border with Ukraine. Dozens of fighters parked at air bases in southwestern Russia and Crimea were also seen.
“A significant amount of Russian troops are gathered near our border,” said Zelenskyy. “Officially, Russia calls this a military exercise. Unofficially, the whole world calls this a blackmail case.
‘Ready for war’
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied playing any role in the conflict in the Donbas and has described troop movements along the western border with Ukraine and in Crimea as defense.
It also stated that military units transferred to border positions would remain in position as long as Moscow deems appropriate.
The deadlock continued to prompt Ukraine to call NATO full member. Ukraine is currently an ally of NATO, but not a member.
Kyiv has also called on the European Union to impose new economic sanctions on Moscow. However, despite the call of Ukraine, the bloc still excludes new sanctions for the time being.
“Our citizens need clear signals that in the eighth year of the war, a nation that shields Europe at its own cost, will receive support not just as as partners, from the stands, but also players in the same team directly on the pitch, side by side, ”said Zelenskyy.
Ukraine wants to end the conflict through diplomacy but is ready to defend itself if attacked, he added.
“Does Ukraine want war? But is Ukraine ready for war? It’s correct.”