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Russia urges leaders of France, Germany to help ease Ukraine tensions

Ukrainian servicemen hold a position on the front-line near the small city of Marinka, in Donetsk region, on April 12, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Russia has urged the leaders of France and Germany to help stop Ukraine's "provocative" actions in the restive east of the country and to encourage Kiev to observe ceasefire agreements in its long-running conflict with ethnic Russians there.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow on Friday that French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had to communicate to the president of Ukraine the "need to decisively stop any provocative actions on the contact line and emphasize the need for an unconditional observance of the ceasefire regime."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is due to hold talks with Macron and Merkel later in the day about the tensions in Ukraine's eastern Donbass region.

Peskov said there were "fewer reports of ceasefire violations coming, and indeed the number of violations has decreased." However, he said, it is necessary to continue "scrupulously monitoring the situation."

Russia has formerly called on Ukraine's foreign backers to stop providing the country with weapons and instead try and de-escalate the situation in the Donbass.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also discussed the situation in eastern Ukraine with Merkel and Macron.

In recent weeks, tensions have mounted between Moscow and Kiev amid a spike in violence in the Russian-speaking Donbass, where Ukrainian troops and ethnic Russians have been fighting since 2014.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis, a charge Moscow strongly denies.

Most recently, the United States, NATO, and Kiev have accused Russia of amassing thousands of military personnel on its northern and eastern borders as well as on the Crimean Peninsula.

The Kremlin says the deployments, on its own territory, are aimed at ensuring Russian security and do not pose a threat to anyone.

In 2019, Kiev and the ethnic Russians agreed to implement a "full and comprehensive" ceasefire in eastern Ukraine after top-level negotiations.

But clashes have increased since the start of the new year.

Ukraine says the new spate of clashes has claimed the lives of at least 28 Ukrainian soldiers and left at least another 68 wounded.

On Saturday, Peskov raised the alarm about the resumption of an all-out conflict in Ukraine's east and expressed Russia's determination to prevent Kiev from using force to try to take control of the Donbass.

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