Russian Federation to keep troops near Ukraine as long as it deems 'appropriate'

US expresses concern as Russia 'sends ballistic missiles' to Ukraine border

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday called on the parties to the conflict in southeastern Ukraine to exercise restraint, the Kremlin said.

"The Chancellor demanded that this buildup be unwound in order to de-escalate the situation", Germany's government said in a readout of a telephone call between Merkel and Putin.

Putin meanwhile "drew attention to the provocative actions of Kiev, which has recently been purposefully exacerbating the situation on the frontline", the Kremlin said.

Russian Federation has been increasing the number of troops at the Ukrainian border, but at the same time maintains that they should not be seen as a threat. Their efforts follow a call between U.S. President Joe Biden and his counterpart in Kyiv, Volodymyr Zelensky, who's also spoken with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief Jens Stoltenberg and renewed a push for membership of the alliance. "Ukraine's MAP (NATO Membership Action Plan) will be a real signal for Russian Federation", said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a pro-Western politician.

"Thank you for keeping people calm and defending our land", Zelenskiy told troops during the trip. "For us, every loss that is now at the front is pain, for us it is a tragedy".

Ukraine has been embroiled in both a military and political conflict with Moscow since 2014, when pro-Western protests toppled a Russia-backed government.

Kozak was asked if Russian Federation would protect its citizens in eastern Ukraine.

On Thursday, the Kremlin's pointman on relations with Ukraine and pro-Russia separatists, Dmitry Kozak, said that peace talks were set to resume on April 19.

Australians are free to travel to New Zealand without quarantine
Ms Ardern said there were no conversations about the possibility of a bubble with Singapore and Australia. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was tremendous that the bubble would be open in time for Anzac Day.

The leaders expressed concerns over the escalation of tensions in southeastern Ukraine.

Zelenskiy has accused Russian Federation of flexing its military muscles and held a series of calls with Western leaders to rally support for Ukraine amid the tensions.

Russian Federation has said its forces pose no threat and were defensive, but that they would stay there as long as Moscow saw fit.

While Washington is indisputably the leading force in the Atlantic alliance, a member state like Hungary, which has unfriendly ties with Ukraine, could veto entry to NATO.


"One subject of their conversation was, among others, the increased Russian military presence near eastern Ukraine", the statement said. He has in recent days appealed to his country's Western allies for support.

Analysts have been split over Russia's true intentions amid the latest escalation in tensions with Kiev, and some observers say Moscow may be testing US President Joe Biden's committment to defend Ukraine.

Russian-backed separatists have fought since 2014 against Ukrainian forces in the Donbass, a conflict that Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people.

He met with Putin in Paris in December 2019 and several deals were reached on prisoner exchanges, but there has since been little progress and no new meetings are planned.

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