German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to withdraw Kremlin troops near the border with Ukraine, while he accused Kiev of “provocative actions” in the region.
Ukraine has raised the alarm over an increase in Russian forces near its eastern border as violence has increased on the line of contact, separating its troops from Russian-backed separatists in its Donbas region.
“The chancellor is demanding that the army withdraws in order to de-escalate the situation,” the German government said in a transcript of a phone call between Merkel and Putin, Reuters reports.
Russia has said its forces do not pose a threat and have defended themselves, but will remain there as long as Moscow deems it necessary.
A senior Kremlin official said on Thursday that Moscow could, under certain circumstances, be forced to defend its citizens in Donbas, and that great animosity could mark the beginning of the end of Ukraine as a state.