US, NATO back Ukraine in dispute with Russia

Photo: AP Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden expressed strong support for Ukraine in a call with the country's president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the White House said in a statement, quoted by AP. The call was provoked by latest Russian army buildup near the border with Ukraine. "President Biden affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbass and Crimea," the statement said.

NATO said it was concerned about a Russian military buildup near Ukraine’s borders, as NATO ambassadors met to discuss the recent spike in violence in Ukraine’s Eastern Donbas region, BBC reported. Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, drawing Western condemnation and sanctions. Biden emphasized his administration’s commitment to a strategic partnership with Ukraine and support for Zelenskiy’s anti-corruption plans and reform agenda. "The leaders agreed these reforms are central to Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations," the statement said. Zelenskiy said on Twitter he was glad to speak with Biden and appreciates US support on different levels. "We stand shoulder to shoulder when it comes to preservation of our democracies. My commitment to transform Ukraine, improve transparency and achieve peace is strong. The American partnership is crucial for Ukrainians," Zelenskiy said. Russia has warned NATO against sending any troops to help Ukraine, amid reports of a large Russian military buildup on its borders. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would take "additional measures" if NATO were to make such a move. Sporadic, low-level clashes continue in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists. US forces in Europe are now on higher alert, citing "escalations of Russian aggression" in the area.

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