EU corrects estimate of Russian troops at Ukraine border
The European Union on Monday reduced its estimate of the number of Russia from 150,000 to over 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, correcting a statement earlier today.
But in the revised statement online, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell still warned that the build-up of Russian troops was “of great concern”, adding: “The risk of further escalation is evident “.
Earlier, Borrell had said Russia had massed more than 150,000 troops along the Ukrainian border and in the annexed Crimean peninsula, in comments to reporters following discussions with Ukraine’s foreign minister.
But he declined to reveal the source of the figure.
In a statement posted online Monday evening, the figure cited by Borrell had been revised to “more than 100,000”. A footnote explained that the figure had been corrected, but without further explanation.
Tensions spiraled over the build-up of Russian troops around its southwest neighbor as intensified clashes with Moscow-backed separatists fueled fears of a return to widespread fighting in Ukraine.
Moscow’s military says it is conducting exercises along its border in response to measures taken by NATO’s Western military alliance that “threaten Russia.”
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said last week that “two armies and three airborne units have been successfully deployed” in the Russia’s western border and that the exercises would be over “within two weeks.”
Ukraine is pushing the West for more practical support as it seeks to deter further aggression from Moscow.
Kyiv Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the EU to prepare “a new round of sectoral sanctions” against Russia in talks with his counterparts in the 27-nation bloc on Monday.
But Borrell said there are currently no other sanctions proposed or under consideration.
Russia’s rise to power comes as clashes between Ukrainian forces and Moscow-backed separatists have erupted in the east in recent weeks, destroying a ceasefire negotiated last year.
A Ukrainian soldier was killed and another injured in the latest bloodshed in the conflict-ravaged east, the army said on Monday.
Kiev has been fighting pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions since 2014, following Moscow’s capture of Crimea.
Interviews between advisers of Ukrainian heads of state, Russia, Germany and France – who have been negotiating on the conflict since 2015 – are due to be held later Monday in Kiev.