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Germany, France call for restraint amid Ukraine escalation

April 4, 2021

Germany and France, mediators in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, have called on all sides to exercise restraint amid repeated violations of a ceasefire brokered last July.

Ukraine Konflikt in der Ostukraine | Petrovskoye, Petrivske
Ukraine has been battling pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions since 2014.Image: Reuters/A. Ermochenko

Germany and France on Saturday released a joint statement expressing concerns over the increasing ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine, amid reports of a Russian military buildup along the border.

"We are closely monitoring the situation, especially the movements of Russian troops, and call on all parties to exercise restraint and work toward the immediate de-escalation of tensions," the German Foreign Office and the French Foreign Ministry said.

Berlin and Paris reaffirmed their "support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," as Kyiv accused Russia of massing thousands of troops on its shared borders as well as on the Crimean Peninsula.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has recorded hundreds of ceasefire violations in the past few days, including 493 on March 26 alone.

Germany and France have played a mediating role in Russia-Ukraine tensions as members of the so-called Normandy Format.

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5-year-old killed

A Ukrainian drone attack killed a five-year-old boy and injured his 66-year-old grandmother in a village some 15 kilometers from the frontline in eastern Ukraine on Saturday, local media reported.

The drone was used to throw an explosive device into the yard of the family home in the village of Oleksandrivsk in the Donetsk separatist region, the reports said.

Meanwhile, Kyiv reported the death of one of its soldiers in a mine explosion in another village located in the Donetsk region.

"A soldier from the Joint Forces received an injury incompatible with life," the Ukrainian military said in a statement.

Russia-Ukraine conflict

Ukraine has been battling pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions —collectively known as Donbas — since 2014, following a change of government in Kyiv and Moscow's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

The conflict has claimed more than 13,000 lives, according to the United Nations.

Moscow and Kyiv this week blamed each other for a rise in violence along the front-line that has undermined the ceasefire brokered last July.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday that 20 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since the start of the year.

adi/aw (dpa, AFP)