Great Britain and other G7 countries have called for Russia to end the provocations and de-escalate tensions in Ukraine.
It comes after the Royal Air Force (RAF) typhoon jets armed with Paveway bombs and Brimstone missiles were dispatched to Romania out of fear President Putin is preparing to invade his neighbor. British defense chiefs have confirmed that the multi-role fighter jets will monitor the skies around the Black Sea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has brought thousands of combat troops close to the borders of Ukraine. This is the largest concentration of Russian troops since the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union have now issued a joint statement.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “The G7 are deeply concerned about the large and ongoing build-up of Russian forces on the borders of Ukraine and the illegally annexed Crimea. We call on Russia to end provocations and ease tensions.”
The G7 Declaration posted on the UK Government’s website reads: “We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union are profound Concerned by the large-scale continued build-up of Russian forces on the borders of Ukraine and in the illegally annexed Crimea.
“These large-scale troop movements constitute threatening and destabilizing activity without prior notice. We call on Russia to cease provocations and immediately relieve tension, in line with its international commitments. In particular, we call on Russia to abide by the OSCE principles and commitments it signed for the transparency of the military movements and to respond to the procedure set out in Chapter III of the Vienna Document.
“Recalling our last declaration of March 18, we reaffirm our unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. We support Ukraine’s stance on restraint.
“We underline our deep appreciation and continued support for France and Germany’s efforts in the Normandy Process to ensure the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. This is the only way to find a lasting political solution to the conflict.
“We call on all sides to work constructively in the trilateral contact group for the OSCE’s proposals to confirm and consolidate the ceasefire.”
The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, has expressed the “unshakable” support of the Western military alliance for Ukraine and warned Moscow not to press ahead with the build-up of troops along the Russian border with the neighboring country.
“NATO stands together with Ukraine,” said Stoltenberg during a press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, describing the Russian movements as “unjustified, unexplained and deeply worrying”.
The comments came amid an increase in ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces have been embroiled in conflict since Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
Since 2014, more than 14,000 people have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine and efforts to reach a political settlement have stalled.
Mr. Stoltenberg described Moscow’s latest troop deployment as the largest military build-up since the beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
“Russia has brought thousands of combat troops to Ukraine’s borders, the largest concentration of Russian troops since the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. Several Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in eastern Ukraine in recent days,” he said.
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister sounded defiant to Moscow, saying Ukraine and its Western partners are better prepared than they were seven years ago.
“Should Moscow take a ruthless step or start a new spiral of violence, it will be costly in every way,” said Kuleba.
A special NATO meeting in Ukraine on Tuesday would ensure the alliance is not caught unexpectedly, he said.
“By meeting today, we are trying to avoid the mistake made in 2014 when Russia was ready to act quickly and pursue its military goals,” said Kuleba.
Ukraine said Russia has amassed 41,000 soldiers on its border with eastern Ukraine and 42,000 more in Crimea.
The number is likely to increase as the troops keep arriving.
The Kremlin has claimed Russia can deploy its troops wherever it wants on its territory and has repeatedly accused the Ukrainian military of “provocative actions” along the line of control and of planning to regain control of the rebel regions by force.
Kremlin officials alleged that Kiev’s actions threatened Russia’s security and warned that Russia could step in to protect the Russian-speaking people in the east.
The meeting on Tuesday is also based on Ukraine’s wish to become a member of NATO because of Moscow’s vehement objections.
Mr. Stoltenberg insisted that it was up to the 30 members of the alliance to decide who could join the group. “Nobody else has the right to interfere or interfere in this process. It is a sovereign right of any nation like Ukraine to apply for membership. “
“This is an important principle as Russia is now trying to restore some kind of sphere of influence in which it tries to decide what its neighbors can do. And that is a world that we really want to leave behind, ”said the NATO chief.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will join Mr Stoltenberg on Wednesday to assess, among other things, the build-up of Russian troops.
“Russia must end this military build-up in and around Ukraine, stop its provocations and de-escalate immediately,” said Stoltenberg.