Biden calls Ukrainian president in show of support amid Russia military build-up at the border

Joe Biden voiced Washington’s support for Ukraine in a phone call Friday with the Ukrainian president, as Russia builds up its military presence along the border.

In the read-out of his call with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the US President “affirmed unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression” in eastern Ukraine and the Russia-occupied Crimea, but made no mention of the ongoing military manoeuvres.

The call followed multiple reports of Russia moving troops and equipment along its border with Ukraine including the Russia-occupied Crimean peninsula.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, on Friday played down the build-up, arguing that “it should not bother anyone and it does not pose a threat to anyone.”

He insisted that the recent manoeuvres were aimed solely at securing Russia’s own borders.

Both the Pentagon and NATO have expressed concern about Russia’s military build-up.

Russian social media in recent days has been flooded by unverified videos, showing large quantities of personnel, tanks and other vehicles on the move in the country’s south and south-west bordering on Ukraine.

On Thursday, Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State,  spoke by phone to the Ukrainian foreign minister while the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff made calls to his counterparts both in Ukraine and Russia to discuss Moscow’s sabre-rattling.

Russia’s military manoeuvres came a week after four Ukrainian troops were killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Fighting between Ukrainian government troops and Russia-backed separatists, which claimed more than 14,000 lives since it began 2014, had largely subsided in recent months before last week’s flare-up.

Mr Peskov on Friday defended Russia’s position on peace talks for eastern Ukraine and blamed Kyiv for “numerous provocations” on the frontline and creating what he called a “frightening” situation.

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