NATO chief calls on Russia to pull back troops from eastern Ukraine

  • 2014-11-20
  • By Rayyan Sabet-Parry, RIGA

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg (photo: creative commons)

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has called on Russia to pull back its troops from eastern Ukraine amid conflict in the east of the country.

Moscow has repeatedly denied its troops are stationed in eastern Ukraine despite accusations from NATO and EU officials its troops are embedded there.

More than 4,000 people have died amid conflict in the east of the country.

"We can see capabilities and what is happening on ground, that's a strong military build up, both along the borders and we see Russian troops inside Ukraine. We see the transfer of more than several hundred of piece of equipment and air defense systems," Stoltenberg told Estonia's ERR news on Thursday.

"This is undermining the Minsk accord and violating the ceasefire and we call on Russia to pull back its troops and respect the Minsk agreements."

The comments come amid an official visit by Stoltenberg in the Baltic states on November 20. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin's chief spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the BBC this week a build of NATO forces close to its borders made Russia 'nervous' and it would protect its 'national interests' if necessary.

However, Stoltenberg has promised stronger NATO presence in the region amid the crisis in the Ukraine. It comes after NATO claims it has intercepted Russian jets more than 100 times over the neutral Baltic sea.

'These Russian flights are mostly taking place in international airspace but conducted in a way that poses a risk to civilian air traffic because they fly without flight plans and without communicating with civil air controls. That's the reason why we're intercepting," said Stoltenberg, former Norwegian Prime Minister. 

"There's a five times as many NATO activity in the region than a year ago."