KIEV (AFP) – NATO warned on Tuesday of a “very serious” build-up of Russian soldiers and weapons inside Ukraine and on the border, as Germany’s foreign minister urged Kiev and Moscow to res-pect a tattered peace plan.
The West is keeping up intense pressure on Russia over Ukraine following a bad-tempered G20 summit in Australia at the weekend which Russian President Vladimir Putin left early.
In Brussels, NATO’s head Jens Stoltenberg is-sued a stark warning to Moscow over the seven-month conflict in Ukraine’s east which has killed over 4,100 people and plunged relations between the West and Russia to a post-Cold War low.
Stoltenberg warned of a “very serious build-
up” of troops, artillery and air defence systems inside Ukraine and on the Russian side of the border as he arrived to meet European Union defence ministers in Brussels.
“Russia has a choice. Russia can either be part of a peaceful negotiated solution or Russia can continue on a path of isolation,” Stoltenberg said. “The international community calls on Russia to be part of the solution.”
At the same time, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier saw Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Kiev, ahead of a crunch meeting later Tuesday in Moscow with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov – the first such visit by a senior European minister since July. Germany is playing the lead role in mediating the crisis with Russia.
Steinmeier said the peace plan agreed in Belarus in September, and its ceasefire, which has been frequently violated, “were not perfect but they do form a basis. We have to fulfil the agreements”.