France warns Russia over Ukraine as EU steps up sanctions in Belarus

, France warns Russia over Ukraine as EU steps up sanctions in Belarus, The Habari News
, France warns Russia over Ukraine as EU steps up sanctions in Belarus, The Habari News
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rance has warned Russia that NATO would be prepared to defend the sovereignty of Ukraine, where it is alleged Moscow has been staging a troop build-up.

French President Emmanuel Macron is said to have expressed his strong concern over the situation on Ukraine’s borders during a telephone conversation with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Monday.

An adviser to Mr Macron said: “Our willingness to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity was reiterated by the president.”

In the Kremlin’s readout of the call with Macron, Putin said large-scale military drills staged by the United States and its allies in the Black Sea were a “provocation”.

“This is increasing tensions in relations between Russia and NATO,” the Kremlin said.

The two leaders also discussed the migrant crisis.

Mr Macron’s advisers said they had agreed on the need for a de-escalation while the Kremlin reiterated Russia’s insistence that the EU discuss it directly with Belarus.

, France warns Russia over Ukraine as EU steps up sanctions in Belarus, The Habari News

Since August thousands of men, women and children have amassed at Belarus’s western border with Poland.

They are mostly from Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and are now enduring freezing conditions in the hope of crossing into the EU.

The EU has accused Belarus and Russia of encouraging thousands of people to cross into Poland and other members states to spark a humanitarian crisis in the bloc – both countries have repeatedly denied any role.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that NATO did not want to speculate on Russia’s intentions on Ukraine, but added: “We see an unusual concentration of troops, and we know that Russia has been willing to use these types of military capabilities before to conduct aggressive actions against Ukraine.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the build-up was concerning, with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin due to meet Ukrainian counterpart on Thursday to discuss the situation.

Russian-backed separatists took control of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region in 2014 in a conflict that continues.

Moscow claims the Black Sea waters around Crimea, although most countries consider the peninsula still under Ukrainian sovereignty.