Ukraine’s President Goes to Donbass as Russia Builds up Troops on Common BorderPolitics | April 8, 2021, Thursday // 14:42| views
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will visit eastern Ukraine on Thursday to assess the situation in the region following a rise in tension with Russia over a long-running conflict.
Kyiv has raised the alarm over a buildup of Russian forces near the border between Ukraine and Russia, and over a rise in violence along the line of contact separating Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine's Donbass region.
Russia says the troop movements are defensive and a senior Russian official has said Moscow has no plans to intervene in the conflict in eastern Ukraine that began in 2014.
"Yes, he (Zelenskiy) is going to Donbass today. To directly assess the situation on the spot," Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskiy's chief of staff, told Reuters.
Zelenskiy called on NATO on Tuesday to lay out a path for Ukraine to join the Western military alliance. His comments drew an immediate rebuke from Moscow, which said Kyiv's approach to NATO could further inflame the situation.
Ukraine and Russia have traded blame for the increase in violence in the conflict, which Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people since 2014. Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, has denied sending troops and heavy weapons to Donbass. Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists accuse each other of breaching a ceasefire in Donbass. Zelenskiy said this week that 24 Ukrainian servicemen had been killed so far this year.
Another Ukrainian serviceman were killed in shelling by separatist forces on Thursday morning, bringing the number of deaths to five in the past three days, the Ukrainian military said.
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