The European Union has vowed continued support for Ukraine amid growing tensions between Kiev and Moscow around the Crimean Peninsula.
EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini reiterated the bloc’s“unwavering” support for Ukraine’s sovereignty on Friday while calling on the country and neighboring Russia to avert further escalation of tensions.
Mogherini said she had discussed the latest tensions between Kiev and Moscow in a telephone call with her Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin as the Western-backed Ukrainian government accused Russia of fueling unrest in the east of the country and around Crimea, which joined Russia in 2014 following a referendum.
“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,” EU’s top diplomat said in a statement.
The development came after the Kremlin declared earlier this week that it had thwarted “terrorist attacks” in Crimea last weekend by Ukrainian military intelligence amid denials by Kiev.
The move was followed by remarks by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev threatening a break in diplomatic ties with Kiev over the security incident in Crimea and the deployment of the advanced S-400 air defense system in the Peninsula.
Mogherini said the EU would continue to monitor the situation and member state officials would discuss the developments on Wednesday.
She added, “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.”
The EU has consistently backed Kiev in its persisting conflict with pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, which has left more than 9,600 people dead since early 2014.
A shaky ceasefire agreed in the Belarus capital of Minsk in late 2014 and renewed in February 2015 has often been breached with both sides accusing the other of initiating the violations.