NATO, U.S. demand Russia finish Ukraine build-up, West examines choices By Reuters

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© Reuters. NATO Secretary Normal Stoltenberg meets Ukrainian International Minister Kuleba in Brussels

By Robin Emmott and Sabine Siebold

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken provided the USA full assist to Ukraine in its battle with Russia on Tuesday as NATO known as on Moscow to halt a big troop build-up on Ukraine’s borders.

Blinken, returning to Brussels simply weeks after his maiden journey to Europe as U.S. President Joe Biden’s high diplomat, instructed reporters that “the U.S. stands firmly behind the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine”. He mentioned he would focus on Kyiv’s ambitions to sooner or later be part of NATO.

Blinken met with Ukrainian International Minister Dmytro Kuleba in an intensification of diplomacy after the Group of Seven international ministers condemned the rise in Russian troop numbers, which the West says has gone unexplained.

Echoing NATO Secretary-Normal Jens Stoltenberg, who met Kuleba earlier, Blinken mentioned Moscow was massing forces in its greatest build-up since 2014, when battle flared between Ukraine and Russia, and Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

Blinken warned of Russia’s “very provocative actions”, whereas Stoltenberg mentioned Russian troopers have been combat-ready.

“In current weeks Russia has moved 1000’s of combat-ready troops to Ukraine’s borders, the biggest massing of Russian troops for the reason that unlawful annexation of Crimea in 2014,” Stoltenberg mentioned.

“Russia should finish this army build-up in and round Ukraine, cease its provocations and de-escalate instantly,” Stoltenberg mentioned at his information convention with Kuleba.

Russia has mentioned it strikes its forces round because it sees match, together with for defensive functions, and has usually accused NATO of destabilising Europe with its troop reinforcements within the Baltics and Poland for the reason that annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.

Russian information businesses quoted Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying that Russia was taking measures to answer what it calls threatening army motion by NATO, together with fight readiness checks and troop workout routines.

Shoigu was cited as saying that NATO was planning to deploy 40,000 troops and 15,000 army personnel near Russian territory. The Western alliance denies any such plans.

Russia on Tuesday additionally known as the USA an “adversary” and instructed U.S. warships to avoid Crimea, which is strategically-located on the Black Sea and is more and more patrolled by NATO allies.

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