Politics Pope calls for easing of tensions between Russia and Ukraine
Ukraine says Putin ignoring request to talk amid Russian troop buildup
Moscow denies receiving "any requests in the past several days" for a dialogue as Ukraine says there are 40,000 Russian forces at its border and 40,000 more in Crimea.Tension between the neighbors has grown steadily for several weeks, with intensified skirmishes in eastern Ukraine — a region that has been mired in conflict since Russia first backed Ukrainian separatists there seven years ago. Putin has sent thousands of forces toward the Ukrainian border recently, raising concerns among politicians in the United States and European Union.
Pope Francis on Sunday called for the easing of tensions between Russia and Ukraine, following reports that Russia increased its military presence in the Black Sea.
Francis, in remarks to the public assembled in St. Peter's Square, said he was following with "deep concern the events in several areas of eastern Ukraine, where in recent months violations of the cease-fire have multiplied, and I observe with great apprehension the increase of military activities," .
He said he hopes "tensions may be avoided," and that "reconciliation and peace" can be fostered.
Ukraine Tells Russia to Pull Back as U.S. Warns of Cost
Ukraine urged Russia to pull back troops from its border as Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned the U.S. would impose “costs” on any Kremlin aggression. © Photographer: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images Ukrainian serviceman checks an armored personal carrier (APC). Tensions between the two neighbors are the highest since the end of large-scale fighting in the conflict that began after President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea in 2014. The war over the status of two breakaway regions in Ukraine’s east has already cost more than 13,000 lives.
"Please, I strongly hope that an increase of tensions is avoided, and, on the contrary, gestures are made capable of promoting reciprocal trust and favoring the reconciliation and the peace which are so necessary and so desired," Francis said.
"May we also keep at heart the grave humanitarian situation being experienced by that population, to whom I express my closeness and for whom I invite you to pray," Francis added.
These comments come after on Saturday that Russia in the Black Sea, sending two warships and 15 smaller ships to the area amid tensions with Ukraine.
Russia has added to its military presence along its border with Ukraine in recent weeks, as fighting has increased in eastern Ukraine with pro-Russian separatists.
The Biden administration on Thursday against Russia for its involvement in the SolarWinds hack, foreign influence operations around U.S. elections and other concerns. The U.S. government also expelled 10 Russian diplomats.
Moscow on Friday, requesting that 10 U.S. diplomats leave the country.
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