After Russian troop movements along the border with Ukraine, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden spoke on the phone.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden have endorsed calls to end Russian troop deployment along the border with Ukraine. “The chancellor and the president have agreed that Russia should dismantle the recent reinforcements of forces in order to calm the situation,” government spokesman Stephen Seibert said on Wednesday evening after the two spoke by phone. According to US estimates, Russia recently moved between 15,000 and 25,000 troops to the annexed Crimea and towards the Ukrainian border.
Earlier, the foreign and defense ministers of 30 NATO countries discussed developments in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia via a video link. The deployment of Russian forces was the largest since the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and was part of the aggressive behavior of great concern, as Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg explained afterwards. And they demand Russia to stop the provocations immediately.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also promised Ukraine to deliver more weapons. After the NATO consultations, he said at a press conference in Brussels that Ukraine had been provided with equipment and trainers for some time. The United States will continue to do these things as needed. Stoltenberg added that he was encouraging the Allies to provide more bilateral support to the partner nation.
In light of the strong deployment of Russian forces along the border with Ukraine, fears are currently growing that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine could escalate again. The latter led to pro-Moscow separatists controlling parts of eastern Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk along the Russian border for nearly seven years. Russia has already annexed the Crimea peninsula in the Black Sea, which belongs to Ukraine and has a population of more than two million people.
A test for the new US government
Meanwhile, the question of why tensions have escalated dramatically lately despite the controversial ceasefire agreement. In NATO, among other things, the hypothesis is being advocated that Kremlin President Vladimir Putin wants to test the extent of the new US government’s support for Ukraine. The dire scenario is that Russia could plan a major offensive with the rebels in eastern Ukraine to secure access to the North Crimean water channel to the Dnieper River.
In Moscow, however, the premise was put forward that Putin only responds to Kiev’s provocations. The government rejects the allegations of deployment. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu described the transfer of thousands of soldiers this week as an exercise.