Deputy speaker of Russia’s upper house Federation Council has slammed European silence over a recent attack by Ukrainian forces on a Russian-speaking eastern area as a green light for a renewed military operation in the pro-independence region.
Kiev will interpret Europe’s silent position “as carte blanche for a military operation in Donbass and restoring territorial integrity by force,” said Konstantin Kosachev on Sunday, reacting to a joint statement by German and French foreign ministers on the Donbass attack, Russia’s official TASS news agency reported.
Top French diplomat Jean-Yves Le Drian and his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, have expressed concerns over the deteriorating situation on the contact line in Donbass but then voiced support for Kiev’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The joint statement issued on Sunday further said the two countries were carefully monitoring the situation, particularly Russian troop movements in the region, while urging restraint and abrupt defusing of tensions.
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The Russian senator, however, reminded the two European diplomats that a child was killed by a Ukrainian drone strike on Saturday in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).
“Yesterday, for the first time since July 2020 a Ukrainian shelling of the DPR was conducted and a six-year-old child died, but there is no word about this” in the European statement, Kosachev said. Instead, he noted, the West accused Russia of troop movements.
“Russia says there must be no force, but only a direct dialogue between the conflicting states. The statement of the two ministers does not include this, and in this sense, it has no added value and only adds fuel to the flame of the conflict,” he added.
The development came as Moscow on Sunday urged the European Union to demand an explanation from Kiev following the drone attack on Donbass, amid an escalation of armed clashes between the pro-Russian forces and Ukrainian troops in the restive region.
Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin also called on the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA) to demand an explanation from Kiev about the incident.
Meanwhile, the EU vowed its “unwavering” support for the Western-backed Ukrainian government on Sunday, with its foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, voicing major worries about what he called Russian troop movements.
“Following with severe concern the Russian military activity surrounding Ukraine,” Borrell wrote online after a phone call with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. “Unwavering EU support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Borrell said he would hold further talks on the issue with Kiev’s top diplomat and foreign ministers from the EU’s 27 nations at a meeting later this month.
Other Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden, have also stated that they are standing by Ukraine, which has blamed Russia for amassing thousands of troops on its northern and eastern borders.
Rusya Federasyon Konseyi başkan yardımcısı Konstantin Kosachev:— RUSEN || Press (@RusenPress) April 3, 2021
Zelensky, Donbass'taki çatışmayı çözme şansını "kaçırdı".https://t.co/oURzb2tdc1
While Moscow has not denied the troop movements amid the increasing military activities near its borders by the US-led NATO alliance, it has insisted that the move was “not threatening anyone.”
Donbass has been the scene of a conflict between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian forces since 2014. It has so far claimed more than 13,000 lives, according to the UN.
The armed confrontations began when a wave of protests in Ukraine overthrew a democratically-elected pro-Russia government and replaced it with a pro-West administration. The majority in those areas refused to endorse the new administration.
That new government then began a crackdown on the mainly ethnic Russians in the east, who in turn took up arms and turned the two regions of Donetsk and Lugansk — collectively known as the Donbass — into self-proclaimed republics.
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