The US Secretary of State said that Russia has withdrawn some of its forces from the Ukrainian border. Blinkin said after the meeting, which was already seen as a strong sign of US support for Ukraine, that “substantial forces” were still stationed there and theoretically enabled Russia to “act aggressively” within a short period of time.
The disputed transfers of Russian and Ukrainian forces across eastern Ukraine since 2014 have caused international concern in recent weeks. According to Kiev, Moscow has assembled up to 120,000 troops on the border of the neighboring country. Russia declared the deployment by maneuvers, in the Crimea alone more than 10,000 soldiers are said to have participated. At the end of April, the end of the exercises was announced and the withdrawal of additional forces announced.
Blinkin assured Kiev of more help: “We are working with our partners to ensure Ukraine can defend itself,” said the chief US diplomat. But he also called for more reforms. Kiev must fight corruption and reform the judicial system.
Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea on the Black Sea and the subsequent support of pro-Kremlin rebels in the Donbas, Kiev has seen its presence threatened by neighboring Russia. According to United Nations estimates, more than 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The peace plan agreed in 2015 is pending. Despite the current ceasefire, around 60 people have been killed in the conflict area since the beginning of the year.
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