NATO reports new Russian troop build-up near Ukraine

Last Updated: Friday, June 20, 2014 - 02:13

Kiev: NATO today reported another build-up of Russian forces near Ukraine as its new president put in place key pieces of his pro-Western government and embraced an EU trade pact that has been bitterly fought by the Kremlin.

Ukraine`s parliament unanimously confirmed as foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin -- a charismatic 46-year-old ambassador to Germany who had spearheaded the EU negotiations and now represents Poroshenko at closed-door talks with Moscow.

Those high-stakes meetings and Poroshenko`s late-night phone exchange on Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin bolstered hopes for a solution to Ukraine`s worst crisis since independence in 1991.

Poroshenko promised to soon unilaterally halt the army`s 10-week push against pro-Russian insurgents who have proclaimed independence in Ukraine`s eastern rustbelt -- a plan some fighters rejected but Moscow cautiously endorsed.

Russia`s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin called Klimkin "one of Ukraine`s most experienced and well-known diplomats". "We wish the new minister success and are ready for contact with him," the Russian diplomat said.

But the Kremlin`s good will was immediately put in question by new charges from NATO that Putin had sent "at least a few thousand more" troops to the border in a reversal of a withdrawal he had begun at the start of the month.

"I consider this a very regrettable step backwards," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in London. "It seems that Russia keeps the option open to intervene further into Ukraine."

AFP

First Published: Friday, June 20, 2014 - 02:13

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