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13 Apr, 2021 10:15

G7 countries call on Russia to ‘cease provocations’ as Western media fuels hysteria over troop movements near border with Ukraine

G7 countries call on Russia to ‘cease provocations’ as Western media fuels hysteria over troop movements near border with Ukraine

Foreign ministers of the G7 countries have issued a joint statement calling the movement of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine “threatening and destabilizing,” and asking Moscow to be transparent with military movements.

Published late Monday evening, the text expresses concern about the increased presence of Russian soldiers on the western border, demanding that the Kremlin “cease its provocations” and “immediately de-escalate tensions.”
The statement, however, makes no mention of Ukraine’s own military build-up, which began first.

In the past fortnight, the Western media has reported a build-up of both manpower and equipment, particularly on the Crimean Peninsula and by the eastern Ukrainian border. While some have suggested that Moscow is preparing for war, and others have dubbed it ‘saber-rattling’, the Kremlin itself has called the movement of Russian troops across its own territory an internal matter.

The reports of increased manpower in the region come following increased tensions in Donbass, an area of Ukraine still engaged in a civil war between Kiev and pro-Moscow breakaway republics. The conflict began in April 2014.

According to G7 foreign ministers, an intergovernmental organization consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US, the growing number of soldiers threatens to turn into something more serious. Russia itself was a member of what was known as the G8 until 2014.

“These large-scale troop movements, without prior notification, represent threatening and destabilizing activities,” the statement said. “We call on Russia to uphold the OSCE principles and commitments that it has signed up to on transparency of military movements.”

The text also reaffirms the organization’s support “for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

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The exact extent of Russian military build-up is not entirely known, with wildly varying figures being released by different outlets and politicians. According to the New York Times, the number is around 4,000 troops. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office gave a much higher estimate, at 80,000.

READ MORE: Ukraine claims Russia ignoring call for crunch talks to avert all-out war in Donbass, but Moscow says it never received an invite

Last week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov revealed that Moscow had held high-level talks with Washington in an effort to address the current situation in Ukraine, with the Kremlin accusing Kiev of an increasingly belligerent tone. Russia has denied that troop movements are in preparation for war, with presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov noting that soldiers move around regularly to be in areas where they are deemed “necessary and expedient.”
“Russia has never threatened and is not threatening anyone and poses no threat to anyone,” he said.

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