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20 Feb, 2022 15:55

EU praises Ukrainian ‘restraint’

Josep Borrell accuses rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine of “provocations” against Kiev
EU praises Ukrainian ‘restraint’

Ukrainian forces have shown “restraint” against provocations and “indiscriminate shelling” against “civilian areas,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, has claimed, as tensions in the Donbass region continue to mount.

In the last few days, fears over a potential full-scale war in eastern Ukraine have ramped up amid reports of increased violence. Western leaders have accused pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s Donbass region of numerous ceasefire violations, while rebel leaders have claimed that soldiers loyal to Kiev have fired at civilian targets.

The latest escalation also comes as Russia stands accused of placing more than 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, with some suggesting that it is planning to invade. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied these allegations.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Borrell called for the violence to come to an end and praised Ukraine for avoiding a military response.

“This escalation is now compounded by the increase in ceasefire violations along the line of contact in eastern Ukraine in recent days. The EU condemns the use of heavy weaponry and indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas,” Borrell said.

“We commend Ukraine’s posture of restraint in the face of continued provocations and efforts at destabilization,” he continued, implying that all the recent shelling has been on the part of the separatists. Borrell did not note any of the accusations leveled against the Ukrainian Army, instead suggesting that such events are “staged.”

“The EU sees no grounds for allegations coming from the non-governmental controlled areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of a possible Ukrainian attack,” he said.

The conflict in Ukraine began in 2014, following the events of the Maidan, when violent street protests toppled the democratically elected government in Kiev. Two regions, Donetsk and Lugansk, both in the Donbass, broke away from Kiev’s control. Ukraine believes Russia is backing the two self-declared breakaway Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics, a claim denied by the Kremlin.

On Saturday, the deputy head of the DPR people’s militia, Eduard Basurin, accused Kiev of shelling “civilian infrastructure” and “terrorizing the peaceful population” of Donetsk. The Ukrainian security forces have denied these allegations, instead claiming that the DPR fired at its own positions “to accuse Ukrainian troops of using heavy weapons.”