Ukraine’s Zelenskiy To Meet French, German Leaders Amid Alarm Over Russian Troop Buildup

French President Emmanuel Macron (right) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Paris in 2019.  

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are set to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Brussels on December 15, according to media reports, amid Western concerns over a Russian troop buildup near the Ukrainian border.

The meeting is expected to take place just before a summit of European Union leaders with their counterparts from the bloc’s Eastern Partnership program — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that has claimed the lives of more than 13,200 people since April 2014.

The Brussels gatherings come as Ukraine and its Western backers have accused Russia of massing tens of thousands of troops near their common border in recent weeks as a possible prelude to an invasion as early as next month.

Russian officials deny Moscow is preparing any offensive, instead accusing Ukraine of provocation and insisting they have the right to move forces anywhere they want within their own country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Helsinki in 2019. SEE ALSO: Putin Reiterates Need For 'Immediate' Talks With NATO On Security Guarantees

German government sources were quoted as saying that the main topic of the talks between Macron, Scholz, and Zelenskiy will be the implementation of the Minsk agreements aimed at ending the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Russia asserts Kyiv is failing to meet its commitments under the 2014 and 2015 Minsk peace deals.

France and Germany are mediating between Ukraine and Russia to try and resolve the conflict as part of the so-called Normandy Format of talks.

The EU has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia over its seizure and illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in March 2014 and over Moscow’s backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukraine crisis is also expected to be discussed at an EU summit on December 16, three days after the bloc’s foreign ministers met in the Belgian capital to coordinate a sanctions response against Moscow if it launches a new military invasion of Ukraine.

EU diplomats told Reuters that the discussions were focused on a potentially gradual increase of sanctions, ranging from possible travel bans and asset freezes on Russian politicians to banning financial and banking links with Russia.

According to the German news agency dpa, the latest draft for the EU summit’s final declaration says Russia urgently needs to defuse the tensions caused by its troop buildup and aggressive rhetoric.

Any further military aggression against Ukraine will result in "massive consequences and high costs," it reads.

With reporting by dpa



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