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Putin holds call with Italian PM over Belarus border crisis & standoff with Ukraine

Putin holds call with Italian PM over Belarus border crisis & standoff with Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken with the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, as part of a bilateral phone call on Monday, Rome has confirmed, as tensions continue to flare between Moscow and the NATO military bloc.

In a statement, Draghi’s office said that the two leaders had covered a range of topics from the migrant crisis on the EU’s eastern border, rising energy prices and Western warnings of a potential conflict between Moscow and Ukraine.

The call comes as Kiev accuses Russia of stepping up its troop presence near the border as a possible precursor to an invasion. Moscow has denied the claims, insisting it has no such plans and that assertions to the contrary are part of a disinformation campaign. 

READ MORE: Poland threatens to shut border with Belarus 

In addition, a number of EU leaders have blamed the Kremlin for a sharp spike in the number of illegal migrants attempting to cross into Poland from neighboring Belarus, with some insisting that NATO could step into the crisis.

President Putin has said his country is not involved in the growing crisis, and has hit out at suggestions from Minsk that it could cut off Moscow’s energy exports to Western Europe in response.

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