BY TAL AXELROD
Western countries knocked Russia for failing to attend talks intended to tamp down violence in Ukraine amid a military buildup on the border by Moscow.
“Russia declined to participate in today’s OSCE meeting with Ukraine to explain its unusual military buildup on its borders with Ukraine and in occupied Crimea. We regret that Russia did not avail itself of this opportunity to address concerns and reduce risks,” the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) tweeted.
Ukraine had called for the talks at the OSCE amid a rise in violence at the border between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian military.
France and Germany, which had previously expressed alarm over the violence and Russia’s military buildup on its side of the border, pressed Russia on Saturday to “reconsider its approach and commit in good faith to live up to its political-military commitments towards the OSCE.”
“This approach does not help in dispelling concerns about the massing of Russian troops along the Ukraine border and in occupied Crimea,” added Poland’s delegation to the OSCE the same day.
Ukraine last week announced that it will hold joint military drills with NATO troops later this year amid spiking tensions with Russia. The country put out a statement declaring an “escalation” along the front, citing a “significant increase in shelling and armed provocations by the armed forces of the Russian Federation.”
Ukraine, which represents NATO’s front line in Eastern Europe against Russian expansion, had also ramped up pressure on its Western allies to “continue and increase international political and economic pressure on Russia.”
For its part, Moscow has warned that any deployment of NATO personnel to Ukraine could increase tensions along the Ukrainian border.