Russia: Dmitry Kozak sends warning over military action in Ukraine
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has not yet been able to speak to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the escalating conflict in eastern Ukraine despite lodging a request to do so, Zelenskiy’s spokeswoman said on Monday. Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame over the worsening situation in the eastern Donbass region, where Ukrainian troops have battled Russian-backed forces in a conflict Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people since 2014. The deputy head of Russia’s presidential administration, Dmitry Kozak: “I support the assessment that the start of military action – this would be the beginning of the end of Ukraine.”
Ukraine fears the Kremlin is engineering a crisis to rally Russians around a foreign enemy ahead of parliamentary elections in September and shift the narrative away from domestic irritants such as jailed opposition figure Alexei Navalny, its security chief told Reuters last week.
Putin on Friday accused Ukraine of “dangerous provocative actions” in the Donbass region.
The Kremlin says Russia is free to move forces around its own territory as it sees fit for defensive purposes.
The standoff has sparked concern from Ukraine’s Western backers.
Washington and the NATO alliance have accused Russia of a “provocative” build-up.
Zelenskiy has spoken of the need for NATO to admit Ukraine, a step Russia, citing its own security concerns, opposes.
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkey was working for a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia after an increase in violence in the Donbass region and a Russian build-up of troops on the border.
Erdogan called for an end to escalating tensions in Donbass after holding talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Istanbul on Saturday, telling him Turkey was ready to provide any necessary support.
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He also discussed the issue in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, in which Putin accused Ukraine of “dangerous provocative actions” in Donbass.
Kyiv has raised the alarm over a buildup of Russian forces near the border between Ukraine and Russia, and over a rise in violence along the line of contact separating Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists in Donbass.
The United States says Russia has amassed more troops on Ukraine’s eastern border than at any time since 2014, when it annexed Crimea from Ukraine and backed separatists in Donbass.
Moscow denies its troops are a threat, but says they will remain as long as it sees fit.
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“For the peaceful and secure future of our region, we want both countries to resolve their disagreements as soon as possible through negotiations and with peace, and we are working towards this,” Erdogan told an event in Istanbul.
NATO member Turkey has forged close cooperation with Russia in conflicts in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as in the defence and energy sectors.
However, Turkey criticised Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, and expressed support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
It also sold drones to Kyiv in 2019.
Major combat in Donbass ended with a truce agreed in the Belarusian capital Minsk in 2015, whose implementation France and Germany have helped to oversee. Sporadic fighting continues despite repeated attempts to implement a ceasefire.
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