Kyiv: Russia deploys more than 80,000 troops on the border with Ukraine and in Crimea
Russia has deployed more than 40,000 troops on the border with Ukraine and the same number in Crimea, said the representative of the Ukrainian President, Iuliia Mendel, in an interview with Reuters. She noted that the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, sent a request for talks with his Russian President Vladimir Putin but has not yet received a response. "We very much hope that this does not mean abandoning the dialogue," Mendel continued.
In an interview with Interfax-Ukraine, she explained that the request was sent on March 26, immediately after the death of four servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces as a result of shelling in the town of Shumy in Donetsk region. Meanwhile, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that "in recent days" there had been "no requests" for talks with Putin.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry accused Russia of not complying with the Vienna Document on Confidence-building and Security Measures, which the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) adopted in 2011. In accordance with the procedure provided by this document, Moscow was sent a request for "clarification regarding the significant increase in the military presence of the Russian Federation along the border with Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine in recent days," but the Russian side "refused to provide substantive information, stating that it does not engage in such activities," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Kyiv claims that Moscow also ignored "further attempts" to involve Russian representatives in consultations "aimed at reducing tension" and "boycotted" a meeting with other OSCE member states convened by Ukraine on April 10. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called on Russia to withdraw troops from the border with Ukraine, "stop bellicose rhetoric," stop spreading misinformation and begin to responsibly implement the Minsk agreements and its obligations under the OSCE Vienna Document.
In early April, there were reports that Moscow was deploying troops to the border with Ukraine. Russian Defense Minister, Sergey Shoygu, explained the buildup of Russian troops as routine readiness checks.
The EU and the United States have repeatedly expressed their full support for Kyiv. On April 6, in a telephone conversation with the Ukrainian President, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assured him that the Alliance “firmly supports" Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a telephone conversation with the Russian President called on him to stop the build-up of troops on the border with Ukraine.