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Wed, 20 Nov 2019 11:55 GMT

Nato Urges Russia to 'Withdraw All Troops' from Ukraine


7Dnews London

Wed, 30 Oct 2019 17:18 GMT

Nato welcomes the withdrawal of the Ukrainian army and Moscow-backed separatists from eastern Ukraine, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday October 30th, urging Russia to "withdraw all their troops", AFP reported.

On Tuesday, a long-awaited pullback occurred by the two sides in Zolote, a town in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, a key area of the war-torn east.

The move was necessary for the first face-to-face talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.

"We welcome all efforts to reduce tensions," Stoltenberg said during a visit to the Ukrainian port city of Odessa.

Ukrainian forces have been fighting the rebels in the Donbass region in a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people. Both sides have agreed to modest troop withdrawals, but these have been disrupted many times by ceasefire violations.

"We know there is a long way to go because there are still ceasefire violations," he said.

"Nato states very clearly that Russia has a special responsibility to... withdraw all their troops, all their officers" from eastern Ukraine, Stoltenberg added.

Since coming to power in May, Zelensky has sought to revive a peace process to end a five-year-old separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.

But Zelensky's peace plan including the troop pullback has been strongly criticised by many in Kiev, especially war veterans and nationalists.

Kiev and its Western backers accuse Russia of funnelling troops and arms across the border to fan the flames of the conflict. However, Moscow has persistently denied the claims.

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