In the early hours of Thursday morning, shooting was reported on the front line between Ukraine and the breakaway pro-Russian republic of Luhansk. Both sides accuse the other of being behind it. Ukraine also claims that a kindergarten was hit, and many injured.
During a press conference on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was asked if he was concerned about the messages received from the Donbass region.
“We are concerned that Russia is trying to pretext an armed attack on Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.
In an interview with NRK after the press conference, Stoltenberg notes that this is a general concern, and that he has no basis for saying that today’s reports are an attempt at provocation on the Russian side.
At the same time, the NATO head said that there were several violations of the ceasefire in the Donbass region, and that the situation was “confusing and unpredictable”..
– Very unusual range
Earlier Thursday, the White House announced that Russia He is said to have deployed another 7,000 soldiers to the border with Ukraine, This contradicts the Russian statements about the reduction.
The NATO Secretary General said it is clear that Russia has significantly increased its military presence on the border with Ukraine since last fall. He calls them “combat-ready forces” to a degree that is “extremely unusual”.
Stoltenberg notes that the actual transfer of energy is visible on satellite images. He describes it as something “everyone sees” and something “no one suspects.” At the same time, the big question is what is the intention behind this, as the NATO chief points out.
– It is unclear what Russia will do with all its military might. It is easy to describe the capabilities, but it is difficult to say what the plan is.
He still believes in dialogue with Russia
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier on Thursday that it is impossible to continue cooperation with NATO in the NATO-Russia Council. The board met in an emergency meeting in January, for the first time in two years.
In the face of these statements, Stoltenberg said that NATO believes dialogue is very important when the situation is dangerous.
NATO believes in dialogue and we know we have succeeded in that before, including during the Cold War. Of course, this is also possible today. It is really the only solution, because the great war in Europe is so brutal and cruel that everyone is obliged to work for it, says Stoltenberg, before adding:
– But we are prepared for the worst, and for this we are strengthening our presence in Eastern Europe.
NATO did not answer
After the meeting in January, Stoltenberg sent a letter to Moscow with suggestions for a series of meetings and topics they could discuss at the forum. Russia has previously given a number of written responses to the United States and NATO, including that Ukraine should never become a member of NATO. The United States rejected many of the allegations.
On Thursday morning, Russia delivered its response to the United States, where it requested security guarantees, among other things. They also demanded the withdrawal of US forces from eastern and central Europe.
If the United States cannot provide the necessary guarantees, the Russians say they will “have to respond, even with military action.” At the same time, it is repeated that Russia has no plans to invade Ukraine.
However, Russia has not yet responded to NATO. Stoltenberg thinks it’s too early to speculate on the cause.
– We had a meeting in January. It was a difficult meeting, but it was also an important meeting. Then NATO sent our proposals and said we are ready to meet again to discuss them.
Follow the development in the NRK News Center:
More shots reports
On Thursday morning, the official Russian news agency, RIA Novosti, announced that Ukrainian forces had attacked areas in the east of the country.
Ukrainians allegedly used grenade launchers and heavy machine guns in four attacks on Luhansk, where pro-Russian Ukrainians declared themselves separated from the motherland.
The Ukrainian defense rejects the veracity of reports of an attack on Luhansk.
Instead, Defense Ministry spokesmen claim that it was the Ukrainian side that was brought down by the rebels. It is also said that Ukrainian government soldiers did not respond to the attack.
“Despite the firing of heavy and prohibited weapons at our positions, our forces failed to respond,” a spokesman for the Ukrainian Armed Forces Operations Headquarters told Reuters.
Kindergarten must be taken
It will be a kindergarten among the buildings in the village of Stanica Luganska that will be hit. It claims the headquarters of operations.
On Thursday afternoon, according to Reuters, the Ukrainian president said that protecting the kindergarten was seen as a major provocation.
Two civilians were reportedly injured in the incident, which occurred on Thursday morning. According to information from Ukrainian government sources, the municipal infrastructure has been damaged, and more than half of the settlement is without electricity.
This is confirmed by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) present in the border areas Signed up Several filming episodes in the hours of Thursday morning.
The ceasefire is broken
There is an official ceasefire between the government and dissident groups in the Donbass region, but this is constantly being violated. These are usually less heavy weapons skirmishes than the parties are now accusing each other of using.
– This is not the usual incident that breaks the ceasefire, but it looks like a provocation, a Ukrainian government source tells Reuters news agency.
Western intelligence has long warned that false accusations of a Ukrainian attack on the so-called republics of Donetsk and Luhansk will be used as a pretext by Russia to invade the neighboring country.
Russians can claim that they have a duty to protect Russian-speaking citizens or Russian citizens there.
Since 2019, 720,000 people in these two regions will receive a Russian passport, according to the AP news agency.
A majority in Russia’s National Assembly Duma said on Wednesday that President Vladimir Putin should recognize the two breakaway republics as independent territories.
He asks the West to calm Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he discussed Thursday’s events with EU leader Charles Michel.
He called on Western governments to condemn the attack, which he believes is being provoked.
In the hours of Thursday afternoon, both the United States and Britain accused Russia of looking for excuses to attack Ukraine.
For its part, the Russian authorities said in a statement On Thursday morning, they expressed concern about what is being transferred from the eastern regions of Ukraine.
They are asking Western countries and NATO to put pressure on Ukraine so that the situation does not escalate.
Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said they had repeatedly expressed their concerns about the strong presence of Ukrainian government forces near the front line.
Peskov denies that Russia planned to invade the neighboring country, but says they are closely following what is happening in the Donbass region.
Do you want to understand more about the tug of war over Ukraine? Watch it here:
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