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Poland, Lithuania support Ukraine, urge sanctions against Russia

KYIV, UKRAINE – Poland and Lithuania joined Ukraine on Monday to call for stronger Western sanctions against Moscow as a Russian military buildup near Ukraine’s border has raised concerns. about an invasion.

US intelligence officials say Russia has amassed 70,000 troops near its border with Ukraine and is preparing for a possible invasion as early as next year.

Moscow denied any intention to attack, but asked NATO to deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet states and to back off the alliance’s military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.

Polish President Andrzej Duda and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausea met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Huta in the western Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine to express support in the face of a Russian military buildup.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the three leaders “urged the international community to strengthen sanctions against the Russian Federation for its continued aggression against Ukraine and once again urges the Kremlin to de-escalate the situation by withdrawing its troops from the Russian Federation. Ukraine borders and temporarily occupied territories.”

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014 and soon after backing the force behind the separatist insurgency in the east of the country.

More than seven years of fighting has killed more than 14,000 people and devastated Ukraine’s industrial heartland, known as the Donbas.

“Our common task is to contain the threat posed by Russia and protect Europe from Russia’s aggressive policies,” Zelenskyy said at a press conference after the talks. “Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania are the vanguard of that deterrence today.”

The Ukrainian leader called for “strong deterrence actions, strong serious sanctions to rule out any thought of escalation.”

Nauseda stressed that any attempt by Russia to draw a “red line” is “unacceptable in Europe in the 21st century”.

Duda also strongly warned against any appeasement by Moscow.

“I am firmly against making concessions to Russia,” Duda said. “Obviously Russia has to step back.”

Moscow on Friday released a draft of a security document that requires the US and NATO to deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet Union countries and to roll back the alliance’s military deployments in the Middle East and the Middle East. Europe – bold ultimatums almost certainly rejected by the US and its allies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin raised his security concerns during a phone call last week with US President Joe Biden, who warned that Russia would face “serious consequences” if Moscow attacked its neighbour. .

Russian diplomats say that Moscow will have to make a decision if their requests are denied.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko warned that Moscow would respond in kind if NATO deployed missiles capable of reaching Russia within minutes.

“If offensive weapons capable of reaching our control centers appear on the territory of NATO members, we will have to create a similar situation for our partners,” Grushko said. with the daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

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