Russia: Ambassador to UK denies Ukraine ‘invasion’ plan
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Tensions between Moscow and Kiev are soaring amid the military build-up and clashes in eastern Ukraine between the army and pro-Russian separatists. And Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has urged the EU to impose new sanctions on Russia amid growing fears of armed conflict.
If you really want to stop Russian aggression against Ukraine, you have to stop Nord Stream 2
Mr Tusk said: “If you really want to stop Russian aggression against Ukraine, you have to stop Nord Stream 2. As simple as that.”
EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said Russia had now deployed more than 150,000 troops on Ukraine’s border and in annexed Crimea.
Mr Borrell said: “It is more than 150,000 Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian borders and in Crimea.
“The risk of further escalation is evident.”
He said no new economic sanctions or expulsions of Russian diplomats were planned for the time being, despite saying that the military build-up on Ukraine’s borders was the largest ever.
Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski has called on the British Government to join Washington in imposing sanctions on organisations linked to Nord Stream 2.
He said: “The true way to stop Russian aggression against Ukraine, as I have repeated many times to our Government, is for Britain to join the USA in imposing sanctions on companies involved in construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.”
Russian ambassador to the UK Andrey Kelin also insisted that Russia and the Ukraine were not close to war following a build-up of Russian troops on the border, describing it as a “normal preparedness exercises”.
His comments came as two Russian warships transited the Bosphorus en route to the Black Sea over the weekend and 15 smaller vessels completed a transfer to the sea as Moscow beefs up its naval presence in the region.
Russia’s relations with Washington, which cancelled the deployment of two of its own warships to the Black Sea last week after fierce Russian protests, are at a post-Cold war low.
Moscow expelled 10 US diplomats on Friday in retaliation for the expulsion of the same number of Russian diplomats from the US over alleged malign activity.
Russia has also temporarily restricted the movement of foreign warships “and other state ships” near Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014, a move condemned by both Kiev and Washington.
Two Russian Ropucha-class landing ships from Russia’s Northern Fleet, capable of carrying tanks and of delivering armour and troops during coastal assaults, transited the Bosphorus on Saturday.
More Russian naval reinforcements in the form of two more landing ships, this time from Russia’s Baltic Fleet, are expected to imminently transit the Bosphorus.
The RIA news agency on Saturday also reported that 15 smaller vessels from Russia’s Caspian Flotilla have completed their transfer to the Black Sea as part of an exercise.
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In a further sign of heightened tensions in the region, a ship carrying logistics trucks and equipment for NATO forces in Romania transited the Bosphorus on Friday evening.
In St Petersburg, Russia’s FSB security service briefly detained a Ukrainian diplomat, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said on Saturday.
The Interfax news agency earlier cited the FSB as saying Oleksandr Sosoniuk was taken into custody when he tried to obtain classified information from Russian law enforcement databases during a meeting with a Russian citizen.
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