BRUSSELS: EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini on Friday (Saturday in Manila) reiterated the bloc’s support for Ukraine and urged Kiev and Moscow to avoid any action which could further escalate tensions.
Mogherini said she had telephoned Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin to discuss the situation, as Kiev accused Russia of stoking unrest in the east of the country and around Crimea which Moscow annexed in 2014.
“The European Union condemns and does not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea … We continue to be unwavering in our support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” Mogherini said in a statement.
“Any actions that could lead to a further escalation of the conflict must be avoided by all sides; a peaceful resolution of the conflict is the only possible solution,” she said.
Mogherini said the 28-nation EU would continue to monitor the situation and member state officials would discuss developments on Wednesday.
The EU has consistently backed efforts to end the conflict between pro-Moscow rebels and government forces in eastern Ukraine which has left more than 9,600 people dead since early 2014.
A tenuous ceasefire agreed in the Belarus capital Minsk late that year and renewed in 2015 has been breached on a near daily basis but recently there has been an upsurge in tensions.
Russia claimed earlier this week that it had thwarted “terrorist attacks” in Crimea by Ukrainian military intelligence and beaten back armed assaults, claims Kiev rejected outright.