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Germany, France urge Russia and Ukraine to respect truce

December 23, 2021

A cease-fire in eastern Ukraine must hold, say Germany and France. This as Russia and the US are still not on the same page over security talks in the new year.

Ukrainian soldiers use a launcher with US Javelin missiles during military exercises in Donetsk
Ukrainian soldiers use a launcher with US Javelin missiles during military exercises in DonetskImage: Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Service/AP/picture alliance

Germany and France on Thursday called on Ukraine's military and pro-Russian separatist forces to respect a renewed cease-fire pledge in eastern Ukraine.

"We urge the sides to respect the cease-fire and to continue discussions on further steps in the humanitarian field, e.g. the opening of crossing points and the exchange of detainees," Berlin and Paris said in a joint statement.

It comes after Ukraine claimed that "armed formations of the Russian Federation" had violated the latest truce three times on Thursday.

Before the cease-fire was reached Ukraine and Russia accused each other of building up forces for military action in the separatist Donbass region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking at his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied plans of invading UkraineImage: Evgenia Novozhenina/REUTERS

US, Russia security talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin, however said Moscow did not want conflict with Ukraine.

Speaking during a marathon news conference Putin said the US's willingness to discuss Russia's security proposals aimed at curbing NATO's eastward expansion was "positive."

"US partners told us that they are ready to begin this discussion, these talks, at the very start of next year," Putin said.

President Joe Biden's spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said the US has yet to agree on a time and place of fresh talks with Putin.

Russia has positioned military troops near the Ukrainian border in recent months.

Kyiv and some western intelligence agencies have warned of a potential Russian invasion into Ukraine's territory, similar to Moscow's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Putin accused the West during his news conference of trying to make Ukraine "anti-Russia, constantly beefed up with modern weapons and brainwashing the population."

Psaki meanhile said: "Well facts are a funny thing and facts make clear that the only aggression we're seeing at the border of Russia and Ukraine is the military buildup by the Russians and the bellicose rhetoric by the leader of Russia."

Western diplomacy in high gear

Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about Russia's aggression towards Ukraine.

She wrote on Twitter they agreed that a Russian incursion "would be a massive strategic mistake & have severe consequences."

Blinken meanwhile discussed the situation on the Ukrainian border with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

"They discussed NATO's dual-track approach to Russia, noting the alliance remains ready for meaningful dialogue with Russia, while standing united to defend and protect allies," the US State Department said.

lo/msh (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)