Donbas negotiations fail as Russia amasses 150,000 troops on Ukrainian border
Negotiations in the "Normandy format" on the situation in southeastern Ukraine ended inconclusively, Interfax, Kommersant and RIA Novosti reported, citing a source in the Russian delegation.
The three-hour video conference, which was attended by advisers to the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany, failed to reach any agreements on the Donbas amid the ongoing transfer of Russian troops to the borders.
“At the initiative of the Russian side, the issues related to the ceasefire were discussed in the first place, and other topics could not be started,” the source told Interfax.
Moscow has laid responsibility for the failure of the negotiations on all but itself. "Specific proposals of the Russian Federation on the mechanism to prevent the escalation of shootings, as well as ways to bring to justice the perpetrators were obstructed by Ukraine. Instead of concrete decisions, the representatives of Germany and France proposed an unaddressed declarative political statement of commitment to the ceasefire, in the style of "we are for all the good and against all the bad," the source said.
He added that the positions of France, Germany and Ukraine "demonstrate a clear desire to imitate and further delay the negotiation process even at the cost of casualties and destruction on both front lines."
Hours before the meeting, the EU's head of diplomacy, Josep Borrell, announced that Russia continues deployment of its troops near Ukraine's borders and Crimea, which he said had reached "unprecedented" levels.
The EU has information that Russia has amassed more than 150,000 soldiers in the region, Borrell said.
"The threat of escalation is obvious," he said.
According to Janes, Russia has moved tanks, BMP armored personnel carriers, long-range artillery, BM-27 Hurricane multiple rocket launchers, as well as heavy flame-throwing systems to TOS-1 Solntsepek to the border with Ukraine. Solntsepek systems, using missiles with a special thermobaric mixture, are capable of literally igniting the air with one volley burning the territory equal to the area of eight soccer fields.
The 74th and 35th Motorized Brigades, the 120th Artillery Brigade and the 6th Tank Regiment have been deployed close to the border with Ukraine. In early April, a convoy of Iskander missile systems of the 119th Missile Brigade of the Central Military District was spotted near the village of Novaya Usman in the Voronezh region.
In addition to infantry and artillery, Russian deployed four Project 775 (NATO classification - Ropucha) large landing ships to the Black Sea.
They were joined by 15 ships of the Caspian flotilla. Sniper units are deployed along the entire eastern border of Ukraine, a source in the Ukrainian armed forces told the the British newspaper Mirror.
Russia has deployed two armies and three Airborne divisions to its western borders, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said on April 13. He added that this was done in response to threats from NATO.