(photo: creative commons)
There has been a build up of Russian troops towards the agreed ceasefire line in Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg claimed on Friday.
"I will not go into details when it comes to the exact numbers but what I can say is that we have seen a military buildup. We have seen a movement of forces, equipment, tanks, artillery and advanced air defense systems into Ukraine," Stoltenberg told reporters in Lithuania.
"And we have also seen movements of forces towards the line which was supposed to be the line that ceasefire was going to be based on. So we have seen movements of forces also westwards within eastern Ukraine,"
"That is the reason why we call on Russia to pull back its troops from both inside Eastern Ukraine and from the border because that will be an important contribution to deescalate the situation. We also call on Russia to respect the Minsk agreements and to use all its influence on the separatists to make them respect the ceasefire. Because what we need in Ukraine is a political solution based on the Minsk agreements and on the ceasefire which is respected," he said.
Moscow has denied any of its troops are stationed in eastern Ukraine despite the accusations. Chief spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin told the BBC retired Russian troops may be fighting in the region but denied Moscow had officially sent troops to the region.
"There's some people who used to be military who are retired," Peskov told the BBC.
"I would like to remind you numerous statements by Putin saying very officially that there's no official Russian troops located on the soil on the Ukraine."
Commenting on NATO military exercises in the Baltics, Peskov said it made Russia nervous and it would protect its national interests.
"We'll continue to make it much more tense as far as our national interests are. The longer our national interests are in danger the longer we'll reply. This does not mean we want a cold war. We want our counterparts to understand we have red lines and we can't pass red lines and we expect our partners to understand where our red lines are."
(Edited by Rayyan Sabet-Parry)