Tue, 18 May 2021

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has visited the volatile eastern part of the country as rising tensions with Russia over the conflict moved closer to the boiling point.

Zelenskiy's 'working trip' on April 8 saw the president meet with Ukrainian servicemen serving on the front lines separating them from Russia-backed fighters and comes after a recent accumulation of photographs, video, and other data suggesting major movements of Russian armed units toward or near Ukraine's borders and into Crimea.

As Zelenskiy toured the area, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged President Vladimir Putin in a phone call to reduce Russia's troop buildup near Ukraine, while Putin in turn accused Kyiv of 'provocative actions.'

Meanwhile, the deputy head of Russia's presidential administration, Dmitry Kozak, took the situation a step further, warning that major military hostilities could mark 'the beginning of the end of Ukraine.'

'As the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, I want to be with our soldiers in the tough times in #Donbas. Going to the locations of the escalation,' Zelenskiy said on Twitter.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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