The leaders of Russia and Ukraine agree on one thing regarding the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, namely that tensions in the region are increasing.
Both sides report that more and more shots are fired over the front line. It separates the Ukrainian government soldiers from the Russian-backed rebels.
Ukrainian authorities say 20 Ukrainian military personnel have been killed so far this year.
Moving Russian military forces
The Ukrainian military leadership fears that Russia is preparing a military attack on Ukraine. The background is that the Russians are moving their military forces in the border area with Ukraine.
According to the BBC, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that the Russians are building up their forces along the border in the north and east. The same thing is going to happen on the Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed in 1014.
The Russian side says that Russia does not threaten anyone, and that the Ukrainians can take it easy. It is emphasized that the Russians have every right to move their forces on their own territory whenever they want.
“Russia is not interested in any conflict with Ukraine, especially not a military one,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko told RIA Novosti news agency.
But a Russian military exercise will be held near the border with Ukraine where the forces will practice defending themselves against drone attacks.
Western countries promise support
US President Joe Biden promises to give Ukraine “unwavering support” for “Russian ongoing aggression”, writes the news agency AFP.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says the following:
– We are deeply concerned about the Russian military activity that threatens Ukraine.
It is not said what this Western support actually consists of. But Russian authorities interpret it as a promise of military assistance to Ukraine.
Russian Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russia will take countermeasures if Western troops are sent to Ukraine.
– There is no doubt that such a scenario will lead to increased tension. Russia will of course take further action to strengthen its security, says Peskov.
The president’s spokesman also did not say what measures could be in question.
The US Defense Command states that the US forces in Europe have increased their preparedness. This is due to the more tense situation in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities say Russia now has more than 2,000 military advisers and instructors inside the rebels in eastern Ukraine.
From the western side, it is also said that the Russians send weapons, soldiers and other types of aid to the rebels.
Russian authorities have also issued passports to many of the residents of the disputed areas. Thus, they can more easily cross the Russian border.
From the Russian side, the claims of the Ukrainian and Western sides for military aid to the rebels are completely rejected. It is said that only political and humanitarian support is provided.
It is emphasized that those Russians who may fight on the side of the rebels do so on a voluntary basis.
For the Russian authorities, it is important to show that they continue to support the predominantly Russian-speaking population of eastern Ukraine.
The leaders in Moscow also see it as a very serious military threat if NATO forces were to be stationed in Ukraine.
For Ukrainian authorities, it is very important to regain control of the entire territory of the country. In the long run, they want to become members of both the EU and NATO. But it will be difficult as long as the conflict in eastern Ukraine continues.
Western countries want to show their support for Ukraine. This is the only one of the three Slavic countries where the leadership in recent years has been replaced through a democratic election.
More than 13,000 people have lost their lives in the conflict in eastern Ukraine since 2014.
Get the latest news delivered to your inbox
Follow us on social media networks