Merkel and Biden call for Russian troops to be withdrawn | Free press

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From a NATO perspective, Russian troop movements along the border with Ukraine are a cause for concern. Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden are now also discussing these developments.

Brussels / Berlin / Washington (dpa) – Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden have backed the call to end the deployment of Russian forces along the border with Ukraine.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert announced Wednesday evening after a phone call from Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden: “The Chancellor and the President agreed that Russia must dismantle the latest troop reinforcements to de-escalate the situation.” According to US estimates, Russia has recently relocated 15,000 to 25,000 soldiers to the annexed Crimean peninsula and to the Ukrainian border.

The foreign and defense ministers of the 30 NATO countries had previously discussed developments in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in a video link. The Russian troop deployment was the largest since the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and was part of an aggressive behavior that gave rise to serious concern, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said afterwards. They call on Russia to immediately stop the provocations.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also promised Ukraine further arms supplies. Ukraine has been provided with equipment and trainers for some time, he said after the NATO talks at a press conference in Brussels. The US would continue to do the things it needs to do. Stoltenberg added that he encouraged the Allies to provide more bilateral support to the partner country.

Given the strong deployment of Russian forces along the border with Ukraine, concerns are growing that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine could escalate again. The latter has resulted in parts of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk along the Russian border being controlled by separatists loyal to Moscow for nearly seven years. Russia had also previously annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which belongs to Ukraine and has more than two million inhabitants.

The question of why tensions have increased significantly in recent times despite an agreed ceasefire, meanwhile, is controversially debated. NATO advocates, among other things, that Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin wants to test the extent to which the new American government’s support for Ukraine reaches. A terrible scenario is that Russia could plan a major offensive with the insurgents in Eastern Ukraine to secure access to the water channel from Northern Crimea to the Dnieper River.

In Moscow, on the other hand, it is argued that Putin only reacts to provocations from Kiev. The government rejects the allegations of the troop deployment. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu described the transfer of thousands of soldiers this week as an exercise.

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