“We have seen the movement of forces, of equipment, of tanks, of artillery and advanced air defence systems into Ukraine. And we’ve also seen the movement of forces towards the line which was supposed to be the line that ceasefire was going to be based on. So we have seen movements of forces also westwards within eastern Ukraine. And this is very serious because it is totally undermining the Minsk agreements, it is fuelling the conflict and it’s contributing to new violations of the ceasefire,” the NATO chief told journalists in Karmėlava, central Lithuania.
The NATO secretary general called on Russia to withdraw its troops from inside eastern Ukraine and also withdraw them from the border, stressing that it would help to “de-escalate the situation.”
Stoltenberg refused to speculate on the goal of Russia’s military build-up, but called for respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law.
Also speaking at a joint press conference, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said Russia’s actions match all characteristics of terrorism.
“We see the Russian army and Russian troops present in eastern Ukraine today, whereas the country is openly lying to deny this. A country that orders its troops to remove signs of identification, a country that brings in the army and heavy munitions without identification signs – such a country features all characteristics of international terrorism,” Grybauskaitė said.
More than 4,000 people have already been killed in eastern Ukraine since the start of the war.