Stoltenberg urges Russian Federation to withdraw troops from Ukraine

At a joint press briefing with President Petro Poroshenko, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Russia to withdraw troops from the territory of Ukraine and stop supporting militants.

"We discussed the situation in the East of Ukraine. Further conflict will takes people's lives. More than ten thousand people have been killed during the fighting, including nearly three thousand civilians. It is clear that the ceasefire is not holding, and we are concerned by increasing threats against OSCE monitors. The Minsk Agreements remain the only path towards peace," Stoltenberg said.

"Russia must withdraw thousands of its troops from Ukraine and stop supporting the militants with their leadership, guidance and equipment. NATO firmly stands in support of [Ukraine's] sovereignty and territorial integrity. We do not recognize and will never recognize the unlawful and illegitimate annexation of the Crimea by Russia," added Stoltenberg.

The NATO Secretary General also added that economic sanctions are an effective mechanism for influencing the Russian Federation, and noted that they must be preserved.

"It is not for NATO to decide on the issue of sanctions against Russia, but NATO countries impose sanctions against Russia, and I believe that these sanctions should continue as long as Russia shows unchanged behavior regarding the Minsk agreements," said Stoltenberg.

The Kremlin immediately reacted to the words of Stoltenberg, saying that there were no Russian soldiers in Ukraine.

"Russia did not have nor has any military personnel on the territory of Ukraine," said Putin's Press Secretary, Dmitry Peskov.

  Stoltenberg, Russian Troops in Ukraine, NATO